Skip to main content

Full text of "SELF & PARTNERS(MOSTLY SELF)"

See other formats


759.292 



759.1 



JloImesJU.'JO 



Keep Your Card in This Pocket 



library cards. 

Unless labeled otherwise, books may be retained 
or two weeks. Borrowers finding books marked de- 
aced or mutilated are expected to report same at 
library desk; otherwise foe last borrower will be held 
responsible for all imperfections discovered. 

The card holder is responsible for all books drawn 
on tnis card. 

Penalty for over-due books 2c a day plus cost oi 

nonces. 

Lost cards and change of residence must be re 
ported promptly. 

Public Library 

Kansas City, Mo. 

TENSION ENVfcLOPE CORR, 







. , 

90 th'6y "''# 

"Toe -s 



SELF AND PARTNiRS 




THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

NEW YORK . BOSTON . CHICAGO . DALLAS 
ATLANTA. . SAN FRANCISCO 




C. J. HOLMES 

(Photo: London News Agency) 



SELF & PARi-NEJLS 

; * ; %* 

(MOSTLY SELF) 

Being the Reminiscences of 
C. J. HOLMES 



'Not Art, of course, or any nonsense of that 

SOrt/ FAMILY RULING, 1890. 

' What do you mean to do on retirement ? To 
paint! Have you done any painting before?' 

OFFICIAL BLESSING, 1 928. 



THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 
NEW YORK . MCMXXXV1 



Copyright, 1936, by 
CHARLES J. HOLMES 



All rights reserved no part of this book may be 
reproduced in any form without permission in writing 
from the publisher, except by a reviewer who wishes 
to quote brief passages in connection with a review 
written for inclusion in magazine or newspaper. 



PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 
BY THE POLYCRAPHIC COMPANY OF AMERICA, N.Y. 



TO 

MY WIFE 



PREFACE 

THOSE who look to me for sensation must, I fear, be dis 
appointed. No splendid adventures, ambitions, intimacies 
like those of Cellini, Haydon, or my friend Rothenstein can 
brighten these pages. Mine has been a c safety first ' life 
of office jobs, done to pay my way, to give very various 
masters some return for their money, and, incidentally, to 
dilute passion, fashion and prejudice in the arts with tepid 
common sense. Where the details are so trite, a chrono 
logical narrative is, on the whole, less tedious than any 
forced effort at literary pattern. If the reader gets bored, 
he (or she) has only to skip five or six paragraphs to reach 
something quite different; to escape from shopkeeping to 
pictures, from domestic events to administrative bliss, from 
realities to fishing. 

My motto has been that of our good vicar, ' Truth with 
Charity.' Unpleasant characters, unreliable persons in 
general, may not have vanished from the world, but each, 
in time, condemns himself and needs no extra branding. 
Omission is more honest than whitewash, and safer. To 
restore the blurred outlines of fact, I have had to quote some 
remarks not primarily made for publication ; casual sayings 
stick in the mind when actual events have grown dim. Old 
letters, too, compel so many revisions of crude memory that 
quotation from them is occasionally needed ; though, as this 
is not a history of other people, I have refrained from draw 
ing much upon that fashionable source of entertainment. 

Few are likely to share my quite Chinese attachment to 

vii 



SELF AND PARTNERS 

things so remote, so completely trivial, as the story of my 
forebears and childhood; yet to omit this would falsify the 
self-picture. As I look through the rather pitiful papers and 
letters of my parents, it is impossible to ignore the effect of 
their troubles upon my own beginnings. The Great War, and 
the improvements in motor-traffic, have made us so familiar 
with suffering and sudden death that we are no longer dis 
posed to shed many tears over such insignificant victims of 
the past. But it is well to remember that, for several critical 
decades, the parochial clergy formed the chief link between 
misery growing conscious of its power, and a civilization 
by turns indifferent, contemptuous, frightened; the frail 
barrier between forces which might otherwise, in clashing 
together, have smashed the patchwork machinery upon 
which we all depend for existence. 

The death of Lord Curzon in 1925 provides a natural 
finale. He was almost the last of our elder Statesmen ; with 
him an epoch comes to an end. What went before, so 
quickly do things move, is already ancient history and 
material for the chronicler. Recent events cannot yet be 
seen in the same true perspective, and are best left alone ; 
especially when they happen to include very little that is 
in the least amusing. 

Since I owe everything in life to the help and tolerance 
of others, I would specially ask forgiveness if some unlucky 
turn of phrase, or chance omission, makes me anywhere 
seem ungrateful. Retrospect also compels profound thank 
fulness for the good fortune which has saved me from the 
penalty of countless errors and follies. Does Providence 
try to make amends for the calamities of one generation 
by treating the next to the exact opposite ? Only so can I 
explain the contrast between my father's luck and my 



own. 

viii 



PREFACE 

Thanks are also due to the Controller of H.M. Stationery 
Office for permission to reprint sundry extracts from my 
evidence before the Royal Commission on National 
Museums and Galleries in 1928, and to Mr. Walter Stone- 
man and Mr. A. C. Cooper for the excellent photographs 
of J. D. Milner and Roger Fry. 

London, 
Jan. 1936 



IX 



SOME PICTURES AND DRAWINGS IN 
PUBLIC COLLECTIONS 

ADELAIDE. Rotherham Campagna. 1934. 

BLACKBURN. Samlesbury Hall. 10 paintings of Blackburn and 

District, and 33 water-colours. 
CAMBRIDGE. Farmyard, Soberton. 1924. 
JOHANNESBURG. Bortree Tarn. c. 1908. 
LEAMINGTON. Approach to Rome. 1935. 
LEEDS. Industrial Landscape and 6 water-colours. 

University. Summer on the Fells, c. 1908, 
LIVERPOOL. Yellow Wall Blackburn, 1932, and i water-colour. 
LONDON. Tate Gallery. Red Ruin Lucerne, 1906 ; The Burn 
ing Kiln, 1914 ; Whernside, 1917. 

British Museum. 3 water-colours. 

Victoria and Albert Museum. 4 water-colours. 
MANCHESTER. The My then, 1903 ; Biasca, 1908 ; Keswick 

Mountains, 1921. 
MELBOURNE. Black Hill Moss, 1910. 

OXFORD. The Old Man from Levers Water, 1910, and i water- 
colour. 

PRESTON. Watendlath Tarn ; Langdale Pikes ; The Scholar- 
Gipsy ; and 2 water-colours. 

SOUTHPORT. Newby Hall, 1923, and i water-colour. 

STOKE-ON-TRENT. The Eden near Lazonby, 1926, and i water- 
colour, 

SYDNEY. Stony Field -Middleton Teesdale, 1914-17. 

VANCOUVER. Temple Newsam Woods, 1932. 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER I. PROGENITORIAL (768-1868) . . . * A i 
Ancestral Mythology; Charlemagne; Sir Robert and Miss 
Holmes; the hero of ' Edwin Drood 3 ; John Holmes of the 
British Museum; the Rivingtons; my father's childhood; 
piety and * the rod ' ; at Cambridge ; in France ; ordination ; 
rny mother; St. John's Parish Paper; smallpox; marriage; 
St. Michael's, Bromley; the cholera; breakdown; Morell 
Mackenzie; Mentone; Cornwall. 



CHAPTER II. CHILDHOOD (1868-1877) 18 

Wanderings in Cornwall; Stratton; Dr, Temple; fancies of 
childhood; my father's death; life at Bude; at Preston; at 
Awliscombe; 'Aladdin'; first ideas of landscape; school 
at Budleigh and Ottery St. Mary ; we move to Preston. 

CHAPTER III. CANTERBURY AND PRESTON (1878-1881) 38 

The Clergy Orphan School: clothes, food and fagging; the 
mumps; fishing the Gudgeon Stream; the ghost in the tunnel ; 
the house at Preston ; fishing and archery ; my brother Frank : 
Preston Grammar School; the Rev. A. B. Beaven; E. B. 
Osborne; Ingleborough ; ' The Tarn and the Lake '; geology, 

CHAPTER IV. CANTERBURY AND ETON (1881-1884) . 59 

Canterbury after the epidemic; a great schoolboy; the snow 
storm of 1 88 1 ; impressions at Windsor; a scholarship at 
Eton; cursed by Ruskin ; College at Eton ; discipline and idle 
ness; the Wall Game; ' Eton as She is Not '; ragging and its 
consequences ; a rebellion. 



CHAPTER V. ETON AND RUSKIN (1885-1887) . . 76 

Discovery of * Modern Painters ' ; attempts at drawing ; the 
Library at Windsor Castle ; Glutton-Brock .as critic and poet ; 
Lionel Headlam ; fishing with Eric Parker ; Edmond Warre ; 
curiosity and religion; scholarship-hunting at Hertford, 
Christ's and Brasenose ; my last day at Eton. 

xi 



SELF AND PARTNERS 

CHAPTER VI. BRASENOSE (1887-1889) ... 94 

A tour in Scotland ; pictures at Manchester and Preston ; carp 
and eels at Kirkham; friends and dons at Brasenose; Dr. 
Butler; Dr. Bussell; Walter Pater; the Rev. A. Chandler; 
boxing and other exercises; sketching and collecting; the 
Windrush ; offer from Mr. Rivington. 

CHAPTER VII. RIVINGTONS (1889-1890) . . .112 

The Rivington firm ; Francis Rivington, churchman and man 
of business ; my training ; life in London ; in Edinburgh with 
W. B. Blaikie ; Henley and the ' Scots Observer ' ; curious 
experience at Preston; death of my grandfather and my 
brother; Mr. Rivington's anxieties; the business sold to 
Longmans; introduction to Mr. Hanson. 

CHAPTER VIII. THE BALLANTYNE PRESS (1890-1892) 129 

Life as a compositor and proof-reader ; unemployment ; study 
at South Kensington; Edward Arnold; visit to Holland and 
Belgium ; art, cricket and a thunderstorm ; return to Ballan- 
tyne's as book-keeper; Covent Garden characters; Rickctts 
and Shannon befriend me; efforts at etching; return to 
publishing. 

CHAPTER IX. JOHN C. NIMMO (1892-1896) . .145 

Mr. Nirnmo and his methods; 'remainders,' the 'Border 
Edition ' of Scott ; William Strang ; our American colleagues ; 
Sandy S ; Lord Ronald Gower; J. A. Symonds; attempt 
to work oui a theory of painting; companions in Westminster ; 
holidays at Wasdale and elsewhere; lost sketch-books; the 
Theatre and the Opera; business difficulties; resignation. 

CHAPTER X. THE VALE PRESS (1896-1903) . 163 

Ricketts and Shannon; their friends and ideals; my literary 
and artistic education; Oscar Wilde; 'The Sphinx' and 
'Salome'; move from The Vale to Beaufort St. ; W. L, Hacon; 
the Vale Press started; the shop in Warwick St. ; John Lane; 
the sport of collecting; impressions of Italy Ricketts and 
Glutton-Brock. 

CHAPTER XL ROCHE'S (1896-1903) . . . .182 
New ways of life ; financial anxieties ; two barrister cousins ; 
writing for the 'Dome'; the company at Roche's; the 
'Athenaeum'; cases of hubris; Conder at Dieppe; visit to 
Italy; its effect upon painting; boxing and fishing. 

xii 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

CHAPTER XII. MARRIAGE (1903) .... 204 
Miss Rivington; Bruges; the Midland Railway; a book on 
Constable ; James Orrock ; Norwich ; end of the Vale Press ; 
marriage; Switzerland; a letter from Fry; negotiations for 
the ' Burlington Magazine.' 

CHAPTER XIII. THE e BURLINGTON MAGAZINE' 

(1903-1909) ........ 217 

Troubles of an economist; Diirer; Chantrey; questions of 
public policy ; MacColl goes to Millbank ; Fry enlists help in 
New York; collecting advertisements; some notable con 
tributors ; Anatole France in Rome ; the Flora bust ; National 
Gallery affairs. 

CHAPTER XIV. THE SLADE PROFESSORSHIP (1904- 

i9 j o) 235 

Slade Professor at Oxford and member of the New English Art 
Club ; Sargent ; Sickert ; the International Society ; pictures 
and lectures; my Oxford audience; honorary degrees; the 
Ashmolean Museum ; disputes and discoveries ; Lord Curzon 
and Mr. Balfour; Naples, Rome and Florence; painting at 
Ladbroke Grove ; Littlehampton ; experiments in water-colour 
and oils ; the house flooded ; entertainments ; my wife's music. 

CHAPTER XV. THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY 

(i) (1909-1911) . . ... - - -259 
Lionel Gust retires; fishing at Hawes; my appointment; 
J. D. Milner ; Lord Dillon ; the Trustees ; needs of the Gallery ; 
a 'Burlington' dinner; T. W. Bacon; Ricketts v. Fry at 
Oxford; P. H. Lee-Warner; some curious portraits; poach 
ing at Barnard Castle ; the Post- Impressionist controversy; the 
New English Art Club at its best; books and personages; 
Rembrandt's Mill; Mr. Asquith. 

CHAPTER XVI. THE NAT IONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY 

(ii) (1912-1916) 290 

Rearrangement of the Gallery; its importance to the Nation; 
pleasures of Langton Field; Oscar Wilde monument; Hol 
bein's Archbishop Warham; a story of Lord Curzon; exhibi 
tion at Carfax; Reginald Farrer ; c The Tarn and the Lake ' ; 
pictures and noble owners ; the suffragettes ; first consequences 
of the War; the V.C.F. and the R.N.V.R. ; duty at Sandring- 
ham; lectures at Dublin; arrest as a spy; retirement of 
Holroyd; a letter to Lord Ribblesdale; appointment to 
Trafalgar Square. 

xiii 



SELF AND PARTNERS 

PACE 

CHAPTER XVII. THE NATIONAL GALLERY (i) (1916- 

1918) 3*8 

Gallery troubles; first Board Meetings; Lord Curzon and 
Lord Plymouth; Parliamentary Bills; the Lane Bequest; a 
dinner-party ; spiritualism ; air-raids ; loan of a Tube station ; 
an outrage; designs for war medals; war pictures; Bellini's 
Bacchanal and other paintings; the Degas Sale in Paris; 
Arnold Bennett and Lord Curzon; Lord Lansdowne elected 
Chairman. 

CHAPTER XVIII. PERSONAL DIVERSIONS (1919-1925) 345 

Thoughts on public affairs; the Westminster Play; the Irish 
Settlement; the Chequers Trust; honours; at Norwich and 
Cambridge; Leonardo da Vinci; book on the National 
Gallery; France and Spain; -expert evidence in Paris and 
Holland; the N.E.A.C. ; the Grosvenor Gallery and the 
R.W.S.; my wife's music; social experiences; fishing on the 
Eden and the Windrush. 

CHAPTER XIX. THE NATIONAL GALLERY (ii) (1919- 

1925) 366 

Voluntary and other assistants; redecoration and rearrange 
ment; handbooks, photographs, lectures, music; help from 
Parliament; the Lane and Chanlrey Bequests; Sir Aston 
Webb; some notable pictures; two cause trouble; death of 
Claude Phillips and other good friends; a claim by the 
Inland Revenue; Lord Curzon's last years. 

EPILOGUE 389 

INDEX 397 



xiv 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

C. J. HOLMES (Photo : London News Agency) . . Frontispiece 

MY MOTHER (about 1861) : MY FATHER (1862) Facing page 10 

A PAGE FROM THE PARISH PAPER OF ST. 
JOHN'S, LIMEHOUSE FIELDS, February 
1860 (Edited and produced by rny father when 
curate) J3 12 

MYSELF IN 1869 (Drawn by my father) 24 

F. H. AND C. J. HOLMES, 1873 : C. J. HOLMES 

AT ETON, 1884 72 

WALTER PATER IN OXFORD: WALTER 

PATER IN LONDON (Drawn by the author) 102 

REGINALD CRIPPS and HAROLD CHILD 

(Photos : Russell & Sons Ltd.) .... 108 

FRANCIS RIVINGTON and W. L. HACON . 114 

LAURENCE BINYON (After an etching by William 

Strang) ,,152 

THE PIPING TIMES OF PEACE : The evening of 
August 25,1 893. A Discussion about the Theatre. 
(Drawn by Ricketts) 165 

JOHN C. NIMMO AFTER LUNCHING A 

CUSTOMER (Drawn by the author) . . 165 

CONDER, RICKETTS, HACON AND SHANNON 

(Photographed at The Vale, 1893) ... 170 

RICKETTS TAKEN FOR A WALK BY SAVAGE 

AND SHANNON (Drawn by Shannon in 1892) 170 

ROGER FRY (Photo : A. C. Cooper & Sons) . . 222 

XV 



SELF AND PARTNERS 

LORD DILLON (From a medal by Sydney Carline) Facing page 264 

J. D. MILNER (Photo : Russell & Sons Ltd.] . . 264 

C. H. COLLINS BAKER, 1932 (After a drawing by 

Francis Dodd, R.A.) 322 

THREE DIRECTORS (Drawn by Willy Sluiter) . Between 356-7 

LADY HOLMES (Photo : Elliot & Fry) . . Facing page 358 



XVI 



SELF AND PARTNERS 



CHAPTER I 
PROGENITORIAL 

(768-1868) 

Ancestral Mythology; Charlemagne; Sir Robert and Miss 
Holmes ; the hero of ' Edwin Drood ' ; John Holmes of the 
British Museum; the Rivingtons; my father's childhood; 
piety and "the rod'; at Cambridge; in France; ordination; 
my mother; St. John's Parish Paper; smallpox; marriage; 
St. Michael's, Bromley; the cholera; breakdown; Morell 
Mackenzie ; Mentone ; Cornwall. 

As a subject of polite conversation, a man's own family 
history ranks in interest with his prowess upon a suburban 
golf-course. Nevertheless it is the recognized duty of a bio 
grapher, particularly if his subject be of mean or common 
place origin, to discover for him some fragment, filament, 
figment or myth of respectable ancestry. I make no apology, 
therefore, for delving in my studio cupboard, and fishing 
out a grimy pedigree, wherein my birth is recorded in an 
obscure corner, the place of honour at the top being occu 
pied by Charlemagne. That surprising document, over 
lapping when unrolled the whole dining-room table, starts 
creditably enough. Charlemagne; Rollo, Duke of Nor 
mandy ; Adeliza, sister of William the Conqueror ; Peter 
de Brus (an ancestor of Robert, unaccountably omitted 
from the D.N.B.), are but a few of the notable steps in 
descent. A descent indeed it soon becomes; the track 
narrowing down finally to one Anthony Lister of Newsome, 
younger brother (if we trust this flattering record) to Thomas 
Lister of Westby, who has his due place in the orthodox 
Ribblesdale pedigree. But of younger brother Anthony that 
pedigree says no word, and with him, I fear, must vanish 
Charlemagne and all the rest of them. Elizabeth Lister, 

i 



SELF AND PARTNERS [768-1868 

reputed Anthony's descendant, undeniably married m 1735 
my ancestor, Christopher Swainson; and only with that 
marriage can sober history start. 

Charlemagne, however, is not the only hero in our 
legendary past. A family myth connects us also with Sir 
Robert Holmes, the swaggering sea-captain whom Pepys 
so heartily disliked. This gentleman's other conspicuous 
memorial to-day is his tomb in the church at Yarmouth, 
Isle of Wight, where he once was governor. The tomb is 
surmounted by a statue, originally, as the story goes, repre 
senting Louis XIV, which was taken by Sir Robert, either 
in one of his prizes or from a wreck. The face was then 
re-cut into its new owner's likeness, and Sir Robert's head 
now tosses under the great flaps of the helmet with a re 
semblance so exact and so comic to my aunt, the late Miss 
Holmes, that I am compelled to a sort of sneaking respect 
for the legend. The thing, of course, is a gross caricature 
of that clever, lively, kindly lady, but the expression is 
identical with her habitual gesture when Radicals, flaunting 
young women, or grammatical solecisms were forced upon 
her notice. 

Alas! neither pedigrees nor armorial bearings give any 
support to this queer iconographic relationship. My father's 
folk (so far as I know, and my cousin, Stephen Holmes, can 
trace them) make their bow to history with no Sir Robert, 
but with plain e John Holmes, Tayler, of Rochester.' Since 
he died in 1703, he must have been Sir Robert's contempo 
rary, and, at best, some lowly connexion. From the 
frequent occurrence of the name Jasper among John's de 
scendants, 1 he presumably was connected with the Jasper 

1 John Holmes was followed by several generations of City merchants, 
dealing in cheese and, more particularly, in leather, three of them in succession 
being members of the Leathersellers* Company. A mural tablet in the Church 
of St. Vedast recorded their undistinguished descent. My great-grandfather, 
Nathaniel Holmes (b. 1764), had been a liveryman in the aforesaid Company, 
but about 1 810 he retired to live at Derby, where he died thirty years later. 
In 1794 he had married a certain Dorothy Farmer, and with Dorothy's 
descendants ambitions arose for other things than cheese or leather. 

Of the twelve children, only five lived much beyond infancy. The eldest 
of their three sons, Nathaniel Reynolds Holmes, had a son also named Nathaniel, 

2 



768-1868] PROGENITORIAL 

family of Rochester, so that in compiling a list of my mythical 
relatives I can fairly add to Charlemagne and Sir Robert 
Holmes the real hero of c Edwin Drood.' 

The main facts about my grandfather, John Holmes ( 1 800- 
1854)3 w ^l be found in the Dictionary of National Biography, 
so that I need only supplement them on the personal side. 
In some unexplained fashion he had made himself a remark 
able linguist, and his abilities were displayed in the great 
Catalogue, of no less than 815 pages, which he compiled 
for Cochran of 148 Strand, a branch of the Rivington firm. 
The result was his translation in 1830, through the influence 
of Lord Bexley and others, to the Manuscript Department 
of the British Museum. There he worked for the remainder 
of his life, during the latter part of the time as Assistant- 
Keeper. Taking a special interest in ecclesiastical history, 
he became the correspondent, it would seem, of the whole 
Bench of Bishops. His papers indicate friendly or familiar 
relations not only with the Due d'Aumale and Lord Ash- 
burnham, whose collections he helped to form, but also 
with historians and men of letters, such as Guizot and 
Lingard, Thackeray and Prosper Merimee. A few of the 
letters are of interest even now. His relations with Panizzi, 
the Trustees, and his colleagues at the Museum, as well as 
with others like Lockhart, a man not easily pleased, were 
also most cordial. His portrai in wax relief by Richard 
Cockle Lucas, of 'Flora' fame, bears the inscription c Domus 
Holmes, British Museum, 1849,' an d ^ e punning nickname, 
which recurs not infrequently in letters addressed to him, is 

who was an electrical pioneer, and the inventor, among other things, of the 
Bude Light. The elder daughter, Harriet, marrying Joseph Toynbee, F.R.S., 
the famous aural surgeon, became the mother of the talented family which 
included Arnold and Paget Toynbee. My grandfather, John Holmes, the 
second surviving son, possessed, as we shall see, a somewhat similar blend of 
piety and scholarship. The third son, Richard Jackson Holmes, started life 
as a cadet in the forces of the East India Company, and as such was painted 
in 1823 (R-A., No. 311) by R. R. Reinagle. He looks a handsome, reckless 
fellow, and his letters from India, where he died in 1835, were preserved until 
quite recent times, in virtue of their racy comments on contemporary life. 
Ultimately they fell into the hands of a relative, a thorough-going Tory, who 
was so shocked by the gossip which they contained about eminent persons 
that she destroyed them, in blissful ignorance of the pecuniary value of scandal. 

3 



SELF AND PARTNERS [768-1868 

some Indication that the stout little snub-nosed antiquary 
was no unsociable creature. 

This cordiality did not apparently extend to his family 
connexions. With his father's people, except for the corre 
spondence with his officer-brother in India, he had little to 
do. Nor was he more intimate with his relatives by mar 
riage. His wife was the eldest daughter of Charles Rivington 
(1754-1831), who had for years been head of the Rivington 
firm. The Rivington family tradition was intensely respect 
able, being, like their sermons and devotional books, no less 
safe doctrinally than commercially. From their standpoint 
my grandfather's modest income, absorption in scholarship 
and indifference to personal profit, appeared reprehensible, 
even dangerous. Though not altogether displeased that 
their new connexion should write for the < Quarterly Review ' 
and have other modest claims to literary repute, the fear 
that they might some day be called upon to subsidize a 
household so precariously financed was a bar to close 
acquaintance. The Holmeses were, after all, poor relations, 
of whom it was well not to see too much. Of all the family, 
only my great-uncle, William Rivington the printer, and 
his kindly, masterful wife became real friends. 

After his marriage to Mary Anne Rivington in 1832, 
John Holmes and his wife continued, for a while, to live in 
the British Museum ; but moved to Highgate shortly before 
my father's birth in April 1834. My father, Charles, was 
the eldest of their five children, all of whom were given 
the name of Rivington. Richard, afterwards Librarian at 
Windsor, came next. The third son, Herbert, entered the 
Navy; retired on account of his health while still Lieu 
tenant, and at the time of his death was private secretary 
to Lord Dufferin. Two daughters, Mary Anne and Emma, 
came last. 

The children were brought up, as the custom then was, 
in an atmosphere of intensive piety and corporal punish 
ment. My grandmother, like her husband, was a good 
linguist, well read, and, with all her strictness in religious 

4 



768- 1 868] PROGENITORIAL 

matters, neither unjust nor inconsiderate. Yet the record 
she kept of the regime by which her tiny children were drilled 
into virtue makes curious reading in these more easy-going 
days, so curious that I may be forgiven if I quote one or 
two extracts. My father, as the eldest of the family, seems 
to have suffered most from the parental creed. 

'Charles was very naughty to-day, and it was necessary 
for his Papa to use the rod/ Poor little fellow ! He was not 
yet four. Then, a few days later: 'This morning Charles 
was repeating an answer in Watts' First Catechism, relative 
to the Day of Judgment. Upon my remarking that this 
was a very solemn day, he said, "Then we shall have a 
plum bun. 9 ' Upon my expressing surprise at this strange 
answer, he said, "Why, on a very solemn day you gave us 
each a bun." Of course this led to an explanation of the 
custom of having hot cross buns on Good Friday, and a 
resolve on my part to discontinue it in future. 3 

Later comes his fourth birthday and a summary of his 
attainments. 'He can repeat the 23rd Psalm and seven 
teen other texts, sixteen Hymns, Watts' First Catechism and 
a chapter in the Infant Christian's Catechism ; he can read 
all words of two letters at sight and many words of three 
letters,' etc., etc. The virtues of charity and self-sacrifice 
were also duly exacted. 'One day not long since, I asked 
the little boys to give a trifle towards a fund for the relief 
of the poor, and also something towards the Church Mis 
sionary Society. Charles very cheerfully gave ten shillings 
to one object, and something less to the other. Richard, 
while examining his little store, observed, "But I must not 
give all my living." ' Considering the ratio of the levy to 
the probable contents of a five-year-old's money-box, the 
hesitation may be excused. 

Soon the teaching began to recoil upon the teachers. 
'A few days since Charles said to me, "Papa mocked me, 
Mama, one day and should he? He would not like to be 
mocked himself, and you know he should do to others as he 
would like them to do to him."' Again, 'I was reading 

5 



SELF AND PARTNERS [768-1868 

the history of our Saviour's purging the Temple, and after 
some remarks upon the sin of desecrating such places., Charles 
said, " But Mr. Rivington sells books in St. Paul's Church 
yard." ' On another occasion, when Sabbath-breaking, and 
Sunday travelling in particular., were being explained and 
condemned, the logical Charles inquires, "Then no ticket- 
collector can love God? 9 '1 changed the conversation/ 
remarks his mother,, "as I did not wish the children to 
become unduly censorious/ 

The whippings, if I may trust contemporary report, were 
no less consistently applied, at least in my father's case, 
than were the Bible lessons. Even those outside the home 
circle did not always escape my grandfather's cane. His 
nephew, Luke Rivington, was one day caught by him when 
engaged in some boyish prank, and duly beaten. Thinking 
from his manifestations of suffering that the punishment had 
perhaps been rather too severe, my grandfather consoled 
him with half-a-crown. The future Monsignor promptly 
dried his tears, and remarked with smiling impudence that 
he would always be glad to take another whipping for 
another half-crown. 

Though repugnant to our current feelings about infant 
psychology and education, this sharp spiritual and physical 
discipline was not followed by any evil consequences. The 
children became neither prigs nor hypocrites. On the con 
trary, they acquired a local repute for their keen wit, their 
high spirits, their ready powers of versification, their acting 
in charades, and their skill with their fingers. c The Holmeses 
were not behind the door when tongues were served out' 
was a label attached to them in their schooldays, and I 
remember meeting a very old lady in a country house, who, 
on hearing my name, asked me whether I was any connexion 
of 'the three brilliant brothers, Herbert, Richard and poor 
Charles' whom she had known at Highgatc fifty years 
before. Clearly they were not much the worse for their 
piety or the paternal cane. 

My father's most conspicuous gift at this time was 

6 



768-1868] PROGENITORIAL 

mechanical. He invented a steamboat which, with a 
noble disregard for friction, was to utilize directly the thrust 
of the piston; he was particularly noted for his skill with 
the lathe, on which he turned small ivory boxes and cups 
of singular fragile refinement. In common with his brothers 
and sisters, he also showed some interest in art. From 
childhood they had the run of the British Museum, and so 
obtained a precocious familiarity with Illuminated MSS. 
This dominated their early essays in painting, and left its 
mark on the later work of the two elder brothers in a certain 
dryness of style, which was reinforced by their enthusiasm 
for the Pre-Raphaelite movement. 

The boys went in due course to Highgate School, with 
some of their Rivington cousins, and in the autumn of 1852 
my father went up to Clare Hall, Cambridge. The Uni 
versity Calendar for 1855 throws some light on his activities. 
He was stroke of his College Boat in the Easter term of 
1 854. In College cricket during the summer term his average 
was 29, his best score being 59 against Corpus. Centuries 
came less easily then. Only six higher scores than this were 
made in all the matches which the Calendar records, and 
the best of them is only 75, which happens to have been 
made against my father's bowling. One curious custom 
seems to have prevailed. Jesus had at this time a deadly 
performer with the ball, and an excellent bat, named 
Jiggins, who was a tower of strength in their College matches. 
But in a Long Vacation match Jiggins reappears playing 
for the College Servants and skittling out the 'Gentlemen. 5 

Skating was, however, the accomplishment with which 
my father's contemporaries all seem to have associated him 
most definitely. His cousin, the late Canon Rivington, when 
recalling this period many years later to my mother, writes : 
'Charles, your dear husband, was a great admiration of 
mine ... he was so extraordinarily clever, as all the 
family were. His skating on the Hampstead Ponds was the 
delight of many people. "Is Mr. Holmes coming down to 
skate to-day? " they would ask. He was first in everything 

7 



SELF AND PARTNERS [768-1868 

he attempted. I can also see him in a deep storm of snow, 
catching sight of me as a small boy In one of the Hall 
windows in our house at Hampstcad, and throwing a large 
snowball which broke the window and scattered snow all 
over me. Yes, my dear Mary, there were giants in the 
Earth in those days.' 

This fair promise was abruptly clouded. Just as my 
father was making his little mark at Cambridge, and read 
ing with a reasonable expectation of high honours, he was 
recalled to London by a catastrophe my grandfather's 
sudden death. John Holmes had never been of a saving 
habit, and a reduction in expenditure was the first neces 
sity, A council of Rivington uncles gathered to consider 
the future of their sister and her family. The library went 
in due course to Sotheby's; Richard was given a post in 
the British Museum ; and, since Herbert's naval career could 
not well be interrupted, my father's Cambridge degree 
remained as the obvious sacrifice. He was notoriously clever 
with his fingers; an apprenticeship to some watchmaker 
would enable him in a short time to contribute something 
to the family exchequer. 

Though naturally conscientious, and feeling very deeply 
his responsibility towards his widowed mother, my father 
could not welcome this economic offer. He had set his 
heart upon taking orders, and a share in the social move 
ment which Kingsley and Maurice had started. This 
intention, this calling, he would not abandon lightly. He 
returned to Cambridge to consult his friends. They immedi 
ately proved the sacrifice unnecessary, combining to make 
him a loan whereby he could remain in residence for another 
year, and take his degree without giving his uncles any 
excuse for further benevolence. But the anxiety occasioned 
by these domestic troubles handicapped, him fatally in the 
Schools, and he had to be content with a place far lower 
than his original hopes. 1 

1 A curious fate still seems to pursue our family at the older Universities. 
I was called away from Oxford in my third year. My brother died at Carn- 

8 



768-1868] PROGENITORIAL 

To repay his friends was my father's next concern. With 
that purpose, he spent two years in France, chiefly at Pont- 
sur-Seine, as tutor to the young Casimir-Perier, who was 
destined in after years to become President of the French 
Republic. My father quickly identified himself with the 
ways of this kindly and cultured French household: so 
much so, that he seemed almost a complete Frenchman 
when he came back to carry out his original purpose. The 
period when he took orders in December 1857 was one of 
considerable religious enthusiasm, and the uplifting of the 
working classes by means of education and personal inter 
course was the ideal of all thoughtful men. My father felt 
that the East End of London was the proper sphere for him, 
so in due course he became curate to the Rev. C. H. Carr, 
vicar of St. John's, Limehouse. At Limehouse, in the 
summer of 1858, he met one of the vicar's nieces, an attrac 
tive girl of eighteen or nineteen, and since this Miss Dickson 
is of some importance to this narrative, it may be well to 
present her in proper form. 

Mary Susan Dickson 1 was born at Preston in 1839. 
Being the eldest of a large family, she soon had occasion to 
exercise the rights of seniority in guiding and teaching her 
juniors, and to learn household management. Beginning at 

bridge in his second term. In the next generation, my elder son, just before 
taking his final Schools, was run over by a motor-car, and put kors de combat, 
so far as further reading went. Only my younger son, choosing London in 
preference to Cambridge, had an uninterrupted University career. 

1 Though claiming descent from the family of Keith, Earl Marischal, the 
Lancashire branch of the Dickson family appears to have no recorded ancestor 
before William Dickson (or Fraser?) who married one Elizabeth Bradkirk 
in 1665. They used the arms of Dickson of Buhtrig, with the motto * Fortes 
Fortuna juvat.' Lancashire at this time, and for another hundred and fifty 
years, was more or less isolated from the Midlands and the South by the diffi 
culty of crossing Chat Moss. The Dicksons were no more adventurous than 
their neighbours. Acquiring some of the toughness and solidity of the boulder- 
clay under their feet, they lived in and around Poulton-le-Fylde, where their 
town house still stands in the market-place. 

At the end of the eighteenth century, a faint breath of romance ripples 
across this undistinguished trickle of descent, when Richard Dickson, the 
surviving male representative of the family, married Margaret Briggs. Mar 
garet's mother had been a Miss Sympson of Kendal. As a girl she had attended 
the ball given in 1 745 by the town of Kendal to Prince Charles Edward and 
his officers, and had the honour of dancing with the Prince. She lived till 



SELF AND PARTNERS [768-1868 

home with a governess, her education was continued, in less 
orthodox fashion, at a private school where boys were in a 
strong majority. On wet clays a four-whcclcr would call for 
her, and then go round to collect the youngsters of the neigh 
bouring families of Gorst and Hulton ; half-a-dozen or more 
being often crowded into the ancient vehicle, among them 
one who afterwards attained some prominence in politics as 
Sir John Gorst. Her formal education was completed in 
London at a finishing school in Westbourne Terrace, where 
her provincial French accent and country-cut frocks caused 
her some trying moments on her first arrival. 

Visits to concerts and picture-galleries were part of the 
London school programme, but not even Jenny Lind at the 
height of her fame impressed my mother so profoundly as did 
the sight of the East End of London. Her aunt, Diana 
Swainson, had recently married the Rev, C. H. Garr, and 
at their vicarage in Limehouse my mother became a frequent 
visitor. She had seen much distress in Lancashire, but 
the immensity of this London area, in which there seemed 
to be no relief of any kind from monotonous squalor, 
affected her deeply and permanently. On her return to 
Preston, after leaving school, she soon began to interest 
herself in teaching and visiting, principally among the 
hand-loom weavers, although the management of a con- 

the age of ninety-seven, and my grandfather Dickson, who hud often heard 
her tell the story, repeated it to me when he introduced me to her two portraits, 
one representing her at the end of her life, the other a Romney of the Kendal 
period. This grandfather, Joseph Brigpj's JKekson, became a .solicitor of some 
position in the county, while his younger brother, Thomas, took orders, and 
settled in the family living of Kastehurch, 

Hie brothers, Joseph and Thomas, married sisters, daughters of Anthony 
Swainson of Liverpool, a descendant of the Christopher Swainson and Eliza 
beth Lister whom we have heard of already in connexion with Charlemagne. 
The Swairisons appear to have come from Stainforth, the hamlet perched so 
picturesquely on the edge of Ribblehe.ad Moor. Roger Swaynson de Stayn- 
forth (ob, 1610) is the first of whom I have note. From Stainforth the family 
moved downstream to Gisburn, and thence scattered .southward to Preston 
and Liverpool, intermarrying with Graindor^rn, Inmaus, Clays, Birleys, 
llornbys, prospering as merchants, shipowners, manufacturers, landed 
proprietors, and exhibiting a marked inclination towards divinity and scholar 
ship. Of the marriage between Joseph Brings Dickson and Susanna Swainson, 
my mother was the eldest child. 

10 



768-1868] PROGENITORIAL 

siderable household and the demands of society could not 
be disregarded. 

An early photograph helps materially in reconstructing 
this period of her life. It shows that she was exceedingly 
handsome, the face a regular oval, the expression thoughtful 
and serene, with just so much liveliness about the eyes and 
mouth as to challenge attention. And she received it in 
plenty. From the moment that she left school, her good 
looks, her good sense, her spirit and her skill as an archer 
brought her many admirers. 

Though she had met her uncle's curate at Limehouse in 
1858, their interest in each other had not been strong enough 
to produce a continuance of the acquaintance. On a further 
visit to Limehouse, the attraction became much more power 
ful, but my father, having no immediate prospect of prefer 
ment, was compelled to silence, and to allowing things in 
the North to take their chance. Whether by accident or by 
design, he found one means of keeping himself in mind. He 
started producing the ' St. John's, Limehouse, Parish Paper,' 
and sent a copy of each number to Preston. This method of 
communication was probably less unpromising than it 
sounds. I have no knowledge of the history of parochial 
journalism, but imagine that, in 1860, any such publica 
tion must have been a novelty. And the St. John's 
Parish Paper was more than a novelty. It was prob 
ably unique. My father was editor, chief contributor, 
compositor, printer, publisher, and, with help from his 
brothers, more particularly my uncle Richard, its illustrator 
as well. 

This forgotten pioneer among such publications deserves 
a little notice to itself. The conception was my father's. To 
realize it he borrowed a hand-press and a quantity of dis 
carded type from his uncle, William Rivington, the friendly 
head of the Gilbert and Rivington firm. He taught himself 
wood-engraving and lithography, so that each number 
might be embellished with a double-page plate in addition 
to the letterpress. With his own hand he set all the type, 

ii 



SELF AND PARTNERS [768-1868 

and printed every sheet and every picture, in his lodgings 
at Nos. 2 and 3 Aston Street. 

The inspiration of the pictures, where they are not severely 
practical, is Pre-Raphaelite, coupled with memories of 
Illuminated MSS. The best of them are the headpiece and 
tailpiece (February 1860) by my uncle Richard to Tenny 
son's 'Home they brought her warrior dead.' Though 
accompanied by somewhat trivial initials and scrollwork, 
the former might well have come from the hands of Miss 
Siddal, the latter from Rossetti himself. My father's illus 
trations are generally more practical : woodcuts of the 
church, and a map of the parish printed in gold ; lithographs 
of the Union Jack and its components, of University gowns 
and hoods, all coloured by hand (how that curate must 
have worked !), a large plate of the St. John's School Festival 
in Petersham Park (quaintly successful in spite of the im 
possible subject), and in December 1861 another Christmas 
Carol, printed in brown and gold, and decorated in twelfth- 
century style with an admirable foliated border. In this, 
his lithographic swan-song, rny father attains a first-class 
professional standard both as a designer and an executant. 

The Paper, a small quarto measuring 8 in. by 5! in., 
f ran ' for two years, beginning in January 1 860 and ending 
ia December 1861. The effective cover and some of the 
contents are printed in red and black during 1860. In 1861 
the red is used more sparingly; the volume contains only 
nine numbers instead of the ten for 1 860, as if the strain on 
the editor's powers were beginning to tell, and the December 
issue contains the notice, 'The Editor of the Parish Paper 
is obliged by his health to discontinue printing the Paper, 
at least for the present.' It was a time of universal distress. 
Smallpox was rife, and my father, in combating the troubles 
around him, at last overtaxed his strength, contracting the 
disease so severely that he was never the same man again, 
either in constitution or in appearance. 

Miss Dickson all this while remained invisible, if not inac 
cessible. My father had stayed with some of her people in 

12 



I r Y fa T"7pr" IP- 4 ^ 

pie a miudeirfrom Her place, 
Lightly to the carrier slept, 
look the face-doth from the face 
, Yet she never moved nor wept. 




a nurse of ninety years, 
Set his child upon her knee- 
Like summer tempest came her 
" Sweet my child, I live for tM" 




A PAGE FROM THE PARISH PAPER 

OF ST. JOHN'S, L1MEHOUSE FIELDS, February, 1860 

Edited and produced by my father, when curate 



768-1868] ' PROGENITORIAL 

Liverpool, and had even made a flying visit to Preston, 
en route for a holiday chaplaincy; but had no luck. He was 
merely able to make a sketch of what he thought to be the 
house; and sketched the wrong one. However, in July 
1862, Miss Dickson came up to London with her mother to 
see the Great Exhibition. In the Exhibition they met Mr, 
Carr with another clergyman who said, * Well, Miss Dickson ! 

\$Don't you remember me? ' It was my father, so changed by 
illness that she had failed to recognize him. The check was 
but momentary. On the following day they became engaged. 

r* Almost immediately they were compelled to separate. My 

IJfather was due at Dumcrieff as holiday chaplain to Lord 
Rollo, while my mother was witnessing the building of 

Ov blockade-runners on the Ribble and the semi-starvation 
/j brought about by the Lancashire cotton famine. When in 

the spring of 1863 the first bales of cotton reached Leyland 
a few miles away, the jubilant mill-workers joined hands 
and danced around them singing the Doxology. 

^ My father, meanwhile, being anxious to obtain more 

<4~lucrative work, accepted the post of Vice-Principal of the 
Training College for Schoolmasters at Culham. It proved 

^ neither comfortable nor congenial. *I shouldn't do for a 

^schoolmaster, ' he writes, 'even if I didn't detest the business, 
which I do. I feel quite competent to undertake a parish, 
but I don't feel equal to undertaking the board and lodging, 
on the most economical principles, of nearly 100 people. 5 
e resigned at the end of six months to go to St. Botolph's, 

^Bishopsgate, as curate to the Rev. W. (Hang Theology!) 
Rogers. 

It was a novel experience, for the parish was chiefly 
inhabited by Jews. He was thus enabled to witness the 
keeping of the Feast of Tabernacles in the back yard next 
to his own lodgings, roofed over for the occasion with boughs. 
He had one less agreeable experience. The house in which 
he lived was found to be on fire, and my father, at some 
personal risk, extinguished the flames with his own sheets 
and blankets. Far from getting any thanks, he merely sacri- 

13 



SELF AND PARTNERS [768-1868 

ficed his bed-linen; for the landlord himself had set the 
place alight to get the insurance money. 

At this time St. George's in the East, already of evil 
repute among waterside districts, became notorious on 
account of the riots occasioned, ostensibly, by the ritualistic 
practices of the Rev. Bryan King. While an exchange of 
livings was being arranged, my father was asked by Dr. Tait, 
then Bishop of London, to take charge of this troubled parish. 
There he spent the early part of 1 864, among the sailors and 
the harpies who preyed upon them, before Father Lowder 
and his colleagues took the place in hand. 

Finally, the offer of the new Mission District of St. 
Michael's, Bromley-by-Bow, enabled my parents to look 
forward to marriage at an early date. It foreshadowed also 
immense responsibilities. The stipend was very small, the 
inhabitants of the parish numbered more than 25,000, the 
majority being exceedingly poor and dependent upon casual 
labour. The wealthiest were artisans and small shopkeepers. 
The only approach to parochial buildings or machinery was 
a good Boys 3 School, which could be used for services on 
Sunday. No house of any kind in the whole parish was 
obtainable for the vicar, until a Mr. C., who had taken a 
great interest in the Schools, placed one at ray father's 
disposal. 

The new venture met with no approbation from his family. 
e l believe/ he writes in July, 'that my marriage is looked 
upon by my uncles (for I have no relations on my father's 
side but cousins whom I never see) as too impudent to be 
encouraged/ and there was some doubt at first as to the 
place of the wedding. The Parish Church at Preston was 
then the only church in that town of 90,000 inhabitants 
where weddings were permitted. But an old custom of 
throwing money on leaving the church, which caused the 
assembly of a rabble, had caused my mother to dread the 
ceremony there, so the wedding ultimately took place, in 
August 1864, at the little country church of Thornton, near 
Rossall. A fortnight later the couple started life at Bromley. 

14 



768-1868] PROGENITORIAL 

The house which had been lent to them proved to be 
fairly good, but it was on the brink of Limehouse Cut. Into 
that stagnant stretch of water, industrial effluents poured 
regularly. The smells were abominable, and the chemical 
emanations, as the new-comers soon discovered, were so 
potent as to corrode all the metalwork in the place. But 
they were full of hopes for the future. Before September was 
over, the foundation stone of a church was laid amid general 
enthusiasm. In October a second foundation, of a School- 
Church, prepared the way for a mission district, called St. 
Gabriel, whereby their unwieldy parish would be reduced 
from 25,000 to 19,000. 

All continued to go well until the following summer (1865), 
when the bad air proved too much for my mother. She 
struggled on until the Church was consecrated in August, 
and then went north to recover from blood-poisoning. 
Immediately afterwards my father was attacked with some 
thing akin to typhoid fever, and it became evident that they 
could no longer safely live and work in the house which had 
been lent to them. There were other reasons for leaving it. 
The owner, now my father's first churchwarden, had given 
much help to the Schools, and had promised still more 
towards the Church, for he was a wealthy man. But the 
price for his help, as the months went by, increased until it 
became complete parochial control. The vicar he hoped 
would still c be his right hand.' My father endured, until 
the churchwarden also claimed the management of the Boys' 
School. This could not be granted. Mr. C. thereupon with 
drew all the financial support he had promised, and my father 
was only able to make good the resulting deficit on Church 
and Schools by sacrificing the whole of his small patrimony. 

Since no other house could be found in their own parish, 
it was now necessary for my parents to live in Poplar. Then 
came fresh troubles. They had just started for a summer 
holiday in 1866, when cholera broke out in the parish. 
My father returned to his post at once, my mother followed 
soon. Then with a plucky curate, Mr. H. D. Moore, and 

15 



SELF AND PARTNERS [768-1868 

the parish doctor, who after a month or two fell a victim to 
the disease, they worked night and day to relieve the 
sufferers. The extent of their labours was considerably 
increased by the flight, in terror, of another curate. Not 
until the epidemic was practically over could my father's 
remonstrances recall him to his duty, and to an ironic 
recompense. His sermon, 'Thankfulness for the Departure 
of Cholera from the District, 3 was preached with such heart 
felt conviction that his hearers presented him with a clock. 

The effect of the strain upon those who had stood their 
ground was soon apparent. My mother was taken seriously 
ill after the arrival of a still-born child, and while she was 
recruiting at Hastings it was noticed that my father had 
developed a hacking cough. This was dismissed by the new 
Bromley doctor as mere c clergyman's throat,' so the vicar 
worked on, though in constant pain, through the long and 
snowy winter, the calls upon him being specially heavy 
owing to widespread industrial distress. 

The outspoken gratitude of his parishioners was some 
recompense ; the completion of a new vicarage in the spring 
of 1867 promised to save him some fatigue, though the 
damp walls did the cough no good. His overworked con 
dition was evident; he was ordered a rest, but Fate once 
more was against him. Leaving hot weather in London, he 
went to Alloa to take Sunday duty for a few weeks. He 
found the place under snow, and the bitter cold continued 
during the whole of his stay, giving him no respite from his 
throat trouble. Nevertheless the parish continued to prosper 
so wonderfully that the vicar and his wife were almost afraid 
of their good fortune : it seemed too good to last. 

At the London Hospital, some years before, my father had 
made the acquaintance of a young doctor, Morell Mackenzie, 
who had since then made a name for himself by his skill with 
the laryngoscope. Hearing from a friend of my father's ill- 
health, Mackenzie begged him to call My father did so, 
and the trouble was instantly diagnosed as tuberculous, a 
verdict which a second specialist confirmed. The work to 

16 



768-1868] PROGENITORIAL 

which he had devoted his life was to be stopped at once; 
London was to be left for good, and the winter, if not all 
succeeding winters, was to be spent in a warmer climate. 

Against such a sentence there could be no appeal. Funds 
had to be scraped together, and arrangements made for the 
charge of the parish ; but friends were kind, and early in 
October the pair were able to leave for the Riviera. The 
Casimir-Perier family met them en route, doing what they 
could to make the journey comfortable, so that the invalid 
reached Mentone without any relapse. There he seemed to 
benefit so greatly by the change that plans were made for 
the winter of the following year. He was able, too, for the 
first time in his life, to indulge himself in sketching, and the 
water-colours he made at this period are my earliest artistic 
recollections. 

Their schemes for the future were suddenly upset by a 
suggestion from the Bishop of London that my father should 
exchange the Bromley living for the chaplaincy at Funchal. 
In that favoured climate, even if the disease were not com 
pletely cured, its advance could be stayed indefinitely. My 
mother accordingly hastened back to England to meet the 
Madeira chaplain and introduce him to Bromley. Frightened 
at first by the immensity of the parish, he was reassured by 
its good condition and organization. He agreed to the 
exchange, so my father, resigning the holiday chaplaincy at 
Villeneuve which he had undertaken, came back to England. 
Outfits for Madeira were procured, and farewell visits were 
paid to the parish and people of Bromley. Then, at the very 
last moment, the Madeira chaplain changed his mind, and 
my parents found themselves homeless. 

They could not possibly return to Bromley ; my mother's 
state of health, at the moment, made the long journey to 
Mentone (part of it still by diligence} no less impossible ; my 
father would not and could not go without her. Finally it 
was arranged that he should winter at Flushing in Cornwall, 
my mother remaining with her parents at Preston, where, on 
November nth 1868, I thus happened to be born. 



CHAPTER II 

CHILDHOOD 

(1868-1877) 

Wanderings in Cornwall; Stratton; Dr. Temple; fancies of 
childhood; my father's death; life at Bude; at Preston; at 
Awliscombe ; ' Aladdin ' ; first ideas of landscape ; school at 
BudJeigh and Ottery St. Mary; we move to Preston. 

I WAS barely a month old when my wanderings began. It 
was essential that my mother should rejoin my father at the 
earliest moment possible. So on December iGth, four days 
after I had been christened in queer little pseudo-Norman 
Christ Church at Preston, I was conveyed to Cornwall. At 
Flushing, with an invalid husband and a tiny baby on her 
hands, my mother was fully occupied ; yet all went well so 
long as faithful old Anne, who had been nurse to the whole 
Dickson tribe, remained there to look after me. But Anne 
was soon required at Preston, and with her recall troubles 
immediately started. Her place was taken by one Elizabeth 
Mutton, whose name I have learned to execrate. Neglected, 
I became fretful ; then to soothe and conceal the fretfulness 
I was drugged. Just before it was too late the cause of the 
trouble was found out and dismissed, but my mother was 
left to watch me day and night, preparing every scrap of 
food, in addition to tending rny father, since no reliable 
nurse could be had in Falmouth, At last there was dis 
covered in Truro the good Elizabeth Simcox, to whose care 
I could safely be left. 

Then we moved to the Lizard in search of more bracing 
air for my father. He soon made friends with the artists 
resident there, but unhappily took a chill while sketching 
at Mullion. Pleurisy followed, and he would have died 
before a doctor could be fetched from a distance but for 

18 



1868-1877] CHILDHOOD 

some prompt and homely remedies applied by my mother. 
When the doctor did at last arrive, he proved to be drunk. 
Clearly a move would have to be made promptly to some 
place where proper treatment was available, and in the 
midst of this anxiety there came a letter from Bromley to 
say that the curate-in-charge had broken down, and must 
be relieved of his duties at once. 

Temporary shelter for the two invalids was offered by our 
Chappell cousins at Camborne; from Camborne we all 
moved on again to lodgings in Truro, where a capable doctor 
took the ailing baby in hand. My mother and father mean 
while were writing hither and thither to find a fresh curate 
for the Bromley Parish. A chance postscript to a letter 
mentioned that the vicar of Stratton in Cornwall wished to 
exchange it for a living in London. The income of Stratton 
was even smaller than that of Bromley, and uncertain too ; 
the vicarage was shockingly out of repair, with nothing 
available for dilapidations; our family finance was on its 
last legs. But the air of Stratton promised well for the 
invalid, so the exchange was agreed ; the vicar stipulating 
that the news was not to be made public. While my mother 
went up to London to make a final settlement there, father, 
nurse and baby moved to Bude, where my mother rejoined 
them. The following day (August 4th 1869) happening to 
be the anniversary of their wedding-day, my parents thought 
they would walk over quietly to Stratton to attend matins. 
The church bell was ringing as they climbed the village 
street, but at the top they were met by the news that the 
vicar had left the place, and that there was nobody to take 
the service. In this unexpected fashion my father restarted 
parochial work. 

Even then, though in occupation of the living, he could 
not be formally instituted. The See of Exeter was vacant, 
and it was not until December, when Dr. Temple had been 
appointed, that my father became vicar de jure. Few 
episcopal appointments have aroused such an outcry. The 
peremptory decisions of a Rugby headmaster fell heavily 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1868-1877 

upon those accustomed to more conventional prelates, whose 
ways, ifnotfortiter in re, were invariably suaviter in rnodo. His 
reputed conversational formula, 'What d'ye want? Naow, 
Good marninY reflects the opinion then current in the 
county; an opinion which his power, courage, honesty and 
judgment gradually changed to respectful affection. Our 
experience I may now begin to use the first person was 
inyariably pleasant. From the very beginning the Bishop 
was a good friend to the little household at Stratton, and a 
welcome guest. Indeed, one of my earliest memories is con 
nected with a visit from him, when he proved himself quite 
unlike the ogre of diocesan gossip. 

In the early part of 1871, being little more than two ycais 
old, I was allowed, as a great treat, to sit opposite to Dr. 
Temple at our midday dinner. His mighty build, his dress 
(particularly the gaiters), and the awe with which his 
presence had inspired my nurse, s,o excited me that Iwas 
taken ill at the apple-tart stage, and was removed from the 
table weeping. Somewhat later, in a clean pinafore, I was 
allowed to come down again to the drawing-room, where, to 
turn my sorrows into joy, I was not only encouraged to 
examine and touch the fascinating gaiters, but was offered 
a ride round the room. Down went the Bishop on hands 
and knees and bore me all over the carpet, enchanted, yet 
a little frightened too, for my baby legs could get no proper 
grip on that massive back, and I had to hold on anyhow. 

My second birthday is no less distinct in memory, for then, 
while setting out the animals from a new and sumptuous 
Noah's Ark (it long remained a sort of family heirloom), I 
fell down on top of the Red-deer. One of his horns ran into 
my forehead between the eyes, making a wound which 
covered my blue frock with blood, and left a scar that was 
only effaced by the wrinkles of middle age. My yells could 
not be quieted until our masterful doctor, John King, by 
arranging plaster over the wound in the form of the Union 
Jack, reconciled me to fortitude as being now an English 
soldier. 



1868-1877] CHILDHOOD 

The advantages of living in the country soon became 
evident. It was healthy and delightful for an inquisitive 
little boy, and convenient for his parents, since it enabled 
them to be rid of him for hours together. They needed the 
relief. While I was just beginning to trot about the vicarage 
garden, to explore the field and orchard below, and to make 
acquaintance with the Stratton neighbourhood under my 
nurse's eye, my mother was far less happily occupied. 
Though there were short periods of improvement in my 
father's health, he always needed great care, and when, 
with the advance of the disease, his pain and weakness 
increased, my mother, in addition to her household and 
parochial duties, had to be day-nurse and night-nurse in 
one. Of this ever-deepening shadow in the background of 
life I was not wholly unconscious, but I was too young to 
comprehend the anxiety which so often kept the house rest 
less and quiet. My delicacy and my inclination called for 
fresh air, and the privilege of rambling in the open was 
accorded the more liberally since it kept my noise and 
chatter out of the way. Even my nurse had another to 
think about after March 1871, when my younger brother 
Frank was born. 

My solitary adventures began, of course, with the vicarage 
garden, or gardens, for the lawn and trees at one end of the 
house had an extension among flower-beds along all one 
face of it, which passed round a corner into a kitchen-garden* 
This was of fair size with fruit-trees trained all over the 
walls; sea-kale (?) growing under great mysterious inverted 
pots of shiny brown earthenware ; and an opening to the 
left, flanked in those days with bushy white-grape vines, 
through which one descended to the moisture and shade of 
the orchard. To the left of the orchard was the field, equally 
moist, in which were held the school treats, when we drank 
tea out of queer mugs, and stuffed down heavy cake. Along 
the foot of field and orchard ran Water Lane, wherein, under 
an arch of greenery, a rivulet ran merrily over the squashy 
gravel down to Stratton and the unknown, For me that 

21 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1868-1877 

water held some peculiar magic. It recurred for years in 
my dreams, glorified and enlarged at last into a veritable 
glassy trout-stream, so that there was some disenchantment 
when I revisited the place in later days to find a mere trickle, 
and that not over-clean. 

Provided with a little garden of my own at the end of the 
lawn, I duly planted seeds. Some* black ones with red spots 
were so pleasing to the eye that it was necessary to see how 
they would germinate. Every few days, therefore, I dug 
them up to note progress. There appeared to be none. 
When the defects of the practice were finally explained, I 
decided that gardening was too slow for me, and let the 
plot revert to weeds and dust. There were more interesting 
things to investigate. 

Against the wall, by the carriage entrance, between two 
elms, which then seemed gigantic, was a heap of gravel 
sprawling out untidily towards the lawn. Heie was a plain 
opportunity for virtue. Fetching my little spade and bucket, 
I determined to put that gravel into its place. At first I 
scraped from the edge, and took the bucketfuls methodically 
to the top of the heap. Though I persevered, it would run 
down again. Finally I concluded that only by speed and 
force could the obstinate little pebbles be coerced into piling 
themselves steeply up the wall. So frantically and fiercely 
did I shovel, that the noise at last alarmed the house. My 
nurse ran out to find me panting and dishevelled, with that 
wretched heap of gravel crumbling down again to its original 
objectionable form. 

Another misconception led to more shameful consequences. 
On a visit to Bude, Mr. Dudley Mills had entertained me 
with some dainty little model boats, three or four inches 
long. The neatest of them all was made of rosewood, so I 
was told. There were roses in the garden at home, so I de 
termined to make a similar little boat for myself. Selecting, 
therefore, the rose with the stoutest stem, I procured (how 
I know not) a table-knife, and managed to hack it down. 
The thorns pricked my fingers, but I duly trimmed the 

22 



1868-1877] CHILDHOOD 

branches, and proceeded to sharpen the two ends of the 
stem (it was about a foot long) into a crude resemblance 
to bow and stern. Only at this stage did it suddenly begin 
to dawn upon me that there was something radically wrong, 
and that by no human possibility could my miserable pointed 
green stick, with the bark and thorn-stubs still apparent, be 
transmuted into a trim little craft like the one I had seen 
at Bude. 

These moments of doubt, disquiet, disillusion, were cut 
short by the tea-bell. From the corner I had chosen for the 
great experiment I could see guests around the flower-beds, 
so I slipped in by another door, dropping my dreadful pro 
duct by the wall as I passed. When washed and made ready 
I descended to the drawing-room, to find that the talk was 
all about the strange destruction of some precious rose-bush, 
a particular favourite of my father's. I was too tiny to be 
suspect. But I was not at that time a liar, so promptly 
confessed c I done it/ producing the contemptible evidence 
of my delusion and failure from the flower-bed just outside. 
It says much for my parents 3 forbearance that I escaped with 
a gentle scolding, and an injunction not to try such things 
again without asking permission. Indeed, during these years 
at Stratton I can remember only one occasion on which I 
came in for corporal punishment at my parents' hands, and 
that amounted only to a careful box on the ear from rny 
father for trespassing into the one place specifically forbidden 
to me his workshop. Even then I was more terrified by 
his sudden appearance, his long dark beard, and the feel of 
his wasted white hand, than I was hurt by the blow. This 
moderation was the more notable because I developed mis 
chievous habits turning on surreptitiously all the taps (taps 
were an endless attraction) at the wine and spirit merchant's 
while my nurse was giving an order, or popping my baby 
brother back into his bath, when he had just been got ready 
in muslin and ribbons to be displayed downstairs. 

My parents, if I may judge from their letters, took these 
misdemeanours less seriously than I was apt to do myself, 

23 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1868-1877 

Perhaps the rigorous discipline of my father's boyhood made 
him resolve that his own children should have an easier start 
in life. I always regarded him with awe, yet my sense of 
his forbearing and humour deepens with every scrap of 
information about him that I unearth. Before I was a year 
old, I find him writing of me : * Now that he can crawl 
anywhere he tries to get into all manner of mischief. The 
other day he was brought up into my workshop to be out 
of the way and was highly delighted to watch me out of 
an empty clothes-basket into which he was popped for 
safety, see below.' The appended sketch shows my head 
and ears projecting over the rim of the basket, the eyes bent 
critically upon my father's lathe, which now, more than 
sixty years later, is used by his grandson. 

'Peter Parley' in a red cover, and some other work on 
life in India, were the first books (excepting the inevitable 
'Agathos') which impressed me. The stories about poison 
ous snakes, and of crocodiles emerging from the mud to 
eat the natives as they slept, surrounded my nightly couch 
with horrors. I could not put down my feet between the 
sheets without a shudder lest a kerait or cobra should be 
there; if there was a sound by the foot of the bed, was it a 
crocodile come to look for me? The snake-terror lasted for 
some time, being emphasized by a curious incident. 

My father's curate, afterwards Canon Bone, was even then 
a valued friend. He lived a little way off. As I was going 
to tea with him one day, accompanied by my nurse and 
little brother in the perambulator, down a lane splendid with 
ragged-robin, a snake appeared in the middle of the road. 
My faithful nurse for the moment lost her head, retreated, 
and left the perambulator to its fate. Picking up a stone, I 
cast it with the puny effort of a three-year-old, and by some 
curious fluke hit the unlucky creature so that it was cut into 
two writhing pieces. I have wondered since whether it may 
not have been a harmless slow- worm, dividing itself in panic. 
The writhing movement, however, has stayed in my head 
ever since, and the fright it then gave me was accentuated 

24 

















^7T^*^_-**ggE <L 

/^- * /\ 



MYSELF IN 1869 
Drawn by my father. 



1868-1877] CHILDHOOD 

a few minutes later when we turned up to Mr. Bone's house 
and his two black retrievers rushed out barking and jumping 
around us. Not even an excellent tea and new picture-books 
could restore my shattered courage. 

One Other memory of this period puzzles me still. It was 
a dream, of which the main features recurred and persisted 
for several years. The scene was invariably a rough swampy 
moorland under a cloudy sky. It was a billowy region of 
considerable extent, covered with long tufts of yellow-gray 
grasses, and swept perpetually by a wind which had bent 
and dwarfed the ragged scraps of woodland that huddled 
here and there by the hollows. To this moor I came again 
and again with singular exhilaration, as the leader who was 
galloping, galloping, on a shaggy, mud-coloured pony, to 
reach his men and lead them against the enemy for some 
critical fight. Both groups, they may have numbered two 
or three hundred in all, were mounted much as I was ; their 
weapons, the sword or a short rough lance. The fight began 
with a charge on our part down a slope, continuing hand-to- 
hand, and without definite detail, until the enemy were 
swept away. That achieved, our company galloped off to 
the left, and apparently westward, of the direction from 
which I had started. In the evening we reached a rude 
little stone church among trees, overlooking the moor, and 
there, to round off the romantic adventure, I was married 
to somebody or other, never distinctly apprehended, but 
THE right person anyhow. 

Like other private fancies of childhood, the whole thing 
seemed too sacred to talk about, as well as being too senti 
mental. But I have not been able to trace the source of that 
vivid imagery. I had seen no such northern or other moor 
land ; I was more frightened than happy when set on a real 
horse, and had heard nothing of Border forays, of which the 
dream seemed to be a dim reflection. On my fourth birth 
day, it is true, my uncle Richard gave me a book 'The 
Adventures of St. George,' the text poor stuff, but with 
engravings after Gustave Dore. Here ? indeed, there are 

25 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1868-1877 

fighting knights, wild woodlands, and even a little forest 
chantry, yet I cannot make them fit the quite different 
period, terrain, and people of my particular romance. I 
suppose such fancies are common enough, and that, as in 
the Kipling story, some ancestral adventure may occasion 
ally rouse a shadowy reflection in a descendant centuries 
afterwards, before the intimations of childhood have faded 
in the light of common day. 

My father all this time had been growing weaker and 
weaker, suffering constant pain and distress which even 
morphia could not always relieve. My mother was almost 
worn out by continual attendance to his needs. In this 
extremity it became essential to keep me out of the house as 
much as possible, so I was taken down every morning, for 
an hour or two, to the Stratton National School. There my 
tendency to shirk the labour of reading for myself was 
promptly corrected by a box on the ear from the school 
master, one which really hurt. Though this teaching lasted 
only a few weeks, I -emerged from it with the power to spell 
out any simple sentence, and am glad to remember that 
the improvement pleased my father, for he mentions it in 
his last feeble pencil note. ' It is no dark sea or river that 
I look to, but rest, sleep and joyful resurrection' are the 
words with which the letter closes. A few days later (May 
22nd 1873) he was released by death from sufferings which 
had become almost intolerable. 

In due course we had to leave Stratton, the rambling old 
vicarage and noble church, now in charge of Mr. Bone, who 
had succeeded my father as vicar; our kind friends the 
Kings ; the hearmes ; the Rowes, with their fragrant wall 
flowers and little cannon; the brothers Crutchett; Mr. 
Saunders the shoemaker at the foot of the hill, father of 
Charles Saunders the tenor ; the top-hatted policeman, and 
many others; the over-shadowed slope above the cottage 
hospital, the very place, in my fancy, for the dragon to 
spring out upon Agathos ; the turning to Binnamy where the 
Trewins used to give us tea and pasties, damp delicious 

26 



1868-1877] CHILDHOOD 

farm-house bread and vast red-cheeked apples, and pass 
along the road to Bude with its humming telegraph poles, 
to Bude, which then seemed only a humble but refreshing 
suburb to Stratton. It lacked even a local totem. Strat- 
tonians were mice ; the folk of Marhamchurch were owls : 
of Poughill, geese ; but of Bude, nothing. 

Our house in Summerleaze Terrace overlooked the little 
estuary and straggling town. A minute's walk to the right, 
or to the back, transferred us across shoe-filling sand to the 
open downs, then undisturbed by anything worse than a 
green cricket-pavilion, fragrant withi the scent of the short 
turf and of the sea, sun-bathed, wind-swept, variegated by 
the passing of fair ladies with Dolly Varden hats (so my 
nurse told me) perched on their piled chignons, and opening 
out on the landward side towards a then mysterious hinter 
land. The path to it began among flaming, towering 
scarlet-runners, but branched this way and that to shady 
lanes, and mills with huge, mossy waterwheels, half sunk in 
earth (like the millstone-milestone on the direct track to 
Stratton) and with little visible means of subsistence in the 
shape of running water. 

Turning downhill from the house we could soon reach the 
footbridge over the tidal-stream, with Cobbledick the baker's 
shop, and the salt mud-flats round the castle. Beyond lay 
the canal-bridge, the house for the lifeboat (looking as vast 
as a liner on its wheeled carriage), and then, to the right, 
the ever-fascinating walk by the canal, past the Acland's 
sunken house, to the tumbling sea, the breakwater and the 
Chapel Rock. The rock-pools were then living gardens of 
indescribable beauty, being as yet undiscovered and unrifled 
of their jewels by the devotees of that Azrael of marine 
zoology, Mr. Philip Gosse. To explore, slipping, splashing, 
and tumbling, the vales and ridges of this exquisite low-tide 
lakeland, was far more exciting than any building of sand 
castles on the opposite shore. 

Possibly it was there that the existence offish dawned upon 
us : the black canal hard by certainly provided the impulse 

27 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1868-1877 

to angle for them, in the shape of a rod projecting from the 
deck of one of the colliers by the wharf-side. 'May we 
fish?' was the immediate demand of two little toddlers in 
black frocks, one of them hardly out of the perambulator 
stage. Pea-sticks, black cotton, bent pins, and cubes of 
bread as big as lumps of sugar, were produced by our re 
sourceful nurse ; tackle which even then seemed inadequate 
to one ungrateful recipient. It certainly failed to tempt 
the dace and eels in those inky deeps, and some years had 
to pass before the instinct to angle had a fair chance of 
developing. 

On the hill .beyond the canal, the coastguard station, 
known to us as 'The Storm Tower, 5 with the great cliffs 
dropping down from it, and an occasional rather terrifying 
and explosive practice with the rocket-apparatus, provided 
more lasting attractions but not the supreme thrill That 
was at Efford Down, the house of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Mills, 
who had been good friends to us all. The very approach to 
it was delightful, by low walls crowned with tamarisk, 
which seemed to have a faint fresh fragrance of its own if 
you plunged your face well into it. Enchanting too was the 
house itself, with the lion- and tiger-skins all over the 
slippery polished floors, its genial imposing owners and their 
sons (we were always a little afraid of Barton), who gave us 
the run of the place and the gardens. It was in the gardens 
that the magic centred for there underground reservoirs 
lay hidden. Pipes and pumps connected them. After 
pumping vigorously for a minute or so at one pleasing and 
easy pump, a short run to a low door in the hillside gave 
access to the edge of a dark cavern below, into which a 
stream of water was plunging. The trouble came when it 
was discovered that you had thus cut off the water-supply 
from the house, and had, as a matter of common courtesy 
rather than a punishment, to pump it all back again uphill, 
with a much stiffer pump, and no subterranean visions to 
relieve the monotonous arm-work. 

My father's long illness had not only impaired my mother's 

28 



1868-1877] CHILDHOOD 

health (she was never really strong again), but had also left 
her with grave anxieties about finance. With her customary 
enterprise, she set about making ends meet by'taking in an 
invalid lady and her nurse. The lady soon proved to be a 
mental case ; the nurse to be incompetent. My mother, in 
consequence, was once more loaded with a double responsi 
bility, but her influence on the patient was so beneficial that 
she was encouraged to persevere. Then arose fresh com 
plications, the issue being decided, in some measure, by the 
fact that I was getting out of hand. It became advisable to 
change our quarters, after having a good holiday with my 
grandparents at Preston. Permanent residence in the North, 
we were advised, was not yet safe for any of us, owing to the 
nature of my father's illness, and its possible after-conse 
quences. 

So in the summer of 1874 we came, on a visit, to Preston 
and to a new range of sensations. Bude had been some 
thirty miles from any railway ; at Preston railways were an 
accessible, an unavoidable, attraction. Whether the trains 
passed in thunder over great trembling bridges, or vanished 
under them in spouts and billows of smoke the very smell 
of it was often pleasant, their evident irresistible momentum 
inspired a half-terror that was all delight. The house, too, 
under the rule of my gentle grandmother, whose lightest 
word was obeyed without question by all, held creature- 
comforts and surprising features which I was afterwards to 
know much better, but which even then were dimly appre 
hended. Its wise mistress saw at once that I needed some 
discipline, so I was presently sent off every morning to a 
little school. There, for a few weeks, under the stern eyes 
of Miss Goodwyn, and the gentler ones of her sister, I was 
initiated by Pinnock's little books into the mysteries of 
English and Roman History, learning also to do sums and 
to draw railway trains on a slate. 

My conduct in the house was doubly regulated : directly 
by old Anne, who, having brought up nine members of the 
previous generation, was not one to stand any nonsense 

29 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1868-1877 

from the next ; indirectly by a diplomatic promise from my 
grandmother that when we had been good boys for thirty 
days, we should each of us> be given anything that we liked 
to ask for. My brother, b,eing still little more than a baby, 
and a very good baby, earned his reward promptly. Choos 
ing a box of soldiers, he received one about two feet square. 
Fired by this example, I too did my best ; yet it was only 
at the very end of my stay, and with some allowance for 
minor misdeeds, that I struggled through to my great oppor 
tunity. Alas ! I had recently been introduced by my uncle 
Edmund to the secrets of the garden and the greenhouse. 
Seduced by their momentary glamour, I chose of all things 
a garden-syringe. 

When my mother's health had improved with rest and 
care, my grandmother travelled with her to Devonshire in 
search of another house. As they were returning in despair 
from one of many unsuccessful inspections, the driver of 
their carriage asked if they had seen Awliscombe Vicarage, 
near Honiton, and offered to take them there. On the road 
they met the vicar riding by. Introducing themselves, they 
found him no less accommodating in his terms than the 
house proved to be desirable, so the affair was settled at 
once. To Awliscombe Vicarage, accordingly, we came in 
September 1874. 

It proved a delightful place for us all. A long, rambling, 
thatched and gabled house, between two gardens, with a 
third for vegetables on the hill behind, a greenhouse with 
excellent peaches, stables and a coach-house, a barn and 
pig-sties, at a rent of thirty pounds a year, were obvious 
merits. Others, less obvious, soon became apparent. The 
people round, being uniformly and exceptionally pleasant, 
provided my mother with congenial society. We boys, when 
our lessons were done, were free to run about as we pleased. 

The adventures of the next twelve months made 1875 seem 
the longest and most eventful year in my life. One of the 
two spinneys in the large garden abutted on the sunken road. 
From it we conducted an intermittent war, by stone- 

30 



1868-1877] CHILDHOOD 

throwing, against the boys in the farm across the way. The 
other spinney contained much larger trees, their trunks 
deliciously sticky with turpentine. A small cave dug in the 
bank below formed our Museum, the principal treasure 
being a dried viper, killed by the haymakers in the grass 
just above. We soon learned to climb the firs, and to swing 
and sing in the wind at the top, overlooking the entire 
neighbourhood, and being all the while invisible and immune 
if danger threatened. Later we learned to scale even the 
ridge of the vicarage roof, and terrified the cook and house 
maid by shouting ' Boo ' down the kitchen chimney. At the 
back gate stood the witch's cottage. Her daughter Penelope 
brought the milk every day : the witch herself regaled us 
with dandelion wine, an astringent yellow liqueur which I 
have not tasted elsewhere. The little stream close by intro 
duced us to miller's thumbs, and to experiments in aqueous 
engineering which proved rather costly. 

Still more costly was an experiment in the art of war. 
One Sunday, at my Budleigh school, I heard an impressive 
account of the siege of Jerusalem, and of the great battering- 
ram by which the Romans finally breached the wall. 'At 
the first blow, the whole city shook.' Some fir-poles lay in 
the barn-yard at Awliscombe. Would they produce a 
similar effect? We found one which we could just lift, so 
trotting with it across the yard we directed the butt at the 
corner of the barn. Our hands got sadly jarred, but we 
continued the process, encouraged by the sight of a little 
dust which was shaken out from the mortar. A brick 
visibly loosened, and thenceforth progress was rapid. By 
the time of our midday dinner the whole corner of the 
barn had become a gaping hollow a convincing proof that 
history was really true. 

A visit to London in the winter of 1874 enlarged our 
knowledge of the world. For me at least, the delights of 
the Zoo were eclipsed by the sight of the Regent's Canal, 
just after the great explosion, with the shattered houses all 
along the banks roofed and shrouded in tarpaulin. I 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1868-1877 

remember, too, an old clergyman's story. Awakened at 
the dead of night by that sudden appalling shock and 
detonation, which unroofed buildings and blew in window- 
frames far away from the unlucky powder-barge, he found 
himself saying to his terrified wife, c I think, my dear, it 
must be the Day of Judgment.' 

An exquisite calves'-foot jelly at a children's party, and 
Aladdin at Drury Lane, are other memories of that visit. 
I already knew the Aladdin story, and the Houghton illus 
trations, so found it hard to accept as a legitimate part of it 
a procession of the Kings and Queens of England, even 
when adorned with emeralds and rubies two inches across. 
Nor did I think that the poisoning of the magician was 
conducted with proper secrecy. He might see at any 
moment that the huge black bottles had POISON painted 
upon them in vivid red. My wildest dreams, however, had 
conceived no such supernatural splendour as that of the 
transformation scenes, with the peris poised high among the 
jewelled lights. Pantomimes now never seem so airy and 
so luminous; indeed only once, in a performance of The 
Magic Flute , when the Queen of the Night suddenly appeared 
aloft in the starlit sky, have I caught again a little of that 
early rapture. Enthralling, too, was the performance of 
Victoria Yokes as the Princess Badroulbadour, pirouetting 
on one toe with a grace and agility which held me spell 
bound. Many a cropper did I come during the following 
weeks in giddy efforts to do likewise. Her spangled white 
and silver, though anything but Chinese, and her mar 
vellous acrobatics did not seem inconsistent with the mag 
nificence and magical atmosphere of the Oriental story. 
These, to my thinking, are marred and dissipated in modern 
productions of Aladdin, where the place of honour, year 
after year, is given to the widow Twankey, her mangle, and 
the humours of washing-day. 

My first vague ideas of painting were derived from my 
father's sketches. Some decorated our walls, the remainder, 
religiously preserved in a great portfolio, were occasionally 

32 



1868-1877] CHILDHOOD 

produced to enliven a wet Sunday afternoon. In 1876, 
however, I was given a toy telescope, and happened to notice 
in the lens a reflection of the view from our dining-room 
window. There was the lawn, the monkey-puzzler , the 
greenhouse, and the banks of flowering shrubs which girdled 
this part of the domain. Above them rose the hill, with 
the old church tower among the elms,, and over it a blue 
sky with white drifting clouds. All this was mirrored in 
miniature in the little circle of glass, every detail sharp 
and clear, every colour pure and intense. Henceforward I 
dreamed of a sort of painting just like that, vivid and precise, 
but so tiny that it could figure in an illuminated manu 
script or be enclosed in a locket. But it remained a dream. 
I was no infant Hilliard, and could not draw even the 
simplest thing without ludicrous mistakes in form and 
proportion. 

Lessons every morning with my mother had been, at first, 
a regular feature in our Awliscombe life. Then difficulties 
began, because I liked my mother's way of teaching rather 
too well. She had encouraged me to read for myself. The 
newly acquired pleasure of doing so threatened to turn me 
into a little library grub, an insatiable devourer of any book 
that might be handy. Yet when I was turned out to get 
fresh air there was sure to be trouble. The discipline of the 
village National School was tried for a few weeks, but failed 
entirely. So at last, though I was only six, I was sent away 
to a boarding-school at Budleigh Salterton. 

Cliff House, where I appeared as a new boy for the fourth 
time, was run by Mr. Beatty and his wife. He had been a 
sailor and was now reading for orders. His views, if I may 
judge from our regular Sunday lesson-books Near Home ' 
and c Far Off, 3 must have been severely evangelical. He 
was not a bad fellow ; free with the cane, but free also with 
diversions for us, walks above the too fragrant beach; by 
the pleasant estuary of the Otter, where he could e pot' at 
things with a revolver; or among the hazels, sloes and 
beeches on the uplands; bathing in summer at Ladram 

33 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1868-1877 

Bay; hockey matches against the rival Woodhouse estab 
lishment and private theatricals at Christmas. 

Once I really did disgrace myself. Each of us had to 
cultivate a small garden. In the centre of mine there sprang 
up a crimson-leaved plant of exceptional size. But, to my 
secret chagrin, one more lofty still, by a good six inches, 
adorned the neighbouring plot, a joint concern of two 
Anglo-Indian brothers about my size and age. Th'e Cain 
in me was suppressed till, on one unhappy day, the brothers 
too openly exulted in my presence. I saw red. Falling 
upon them in fury, I drove the pair to retreat and to tears, 
and lopped their flaunting vegetable. For this I was soundly 
and deservedly whipped (by Mrs. B.) with a slipper; the 
heel (I speak with some experience) can inflict a pain which 
rivals in degree and duration that from a stout ground-ash. 
The real trial at Budleigh was the food. To a child 
brought up on honest country butter, the salted substitutes 
for it are simply nauseous. Also, Mr. Beatty's seafaring had 
made him familiar with canned meat. Great gray-brown 
cylinders of Australian mutton were piled in the larder; 
their contents, equally gray and dismal, were part of our 
regular menu. At the top of the dinner-table there might 
be a hot appetizing joint: at the bottom, where I sat, there 
seemed always to be this wholesome but revolting importa 
tion. I remember sitting miserable and stupid in the dining- 
room with a plate of the accursed thing before me all 
through one long summer afternoon. The rest of the school 
had gone off in brakes for a picnic* and I should be (and 
was) whipped for disobedience when they came back but 
I could not force myself to swallow it. Some hint of the 
trouble ultimately reached my mother's ears, for after that 
summer I did not return to Budleigh, 

Owing to my grandfather's illness and other anxieties my 

mother was needed at Preston, so thither we travelled again. 

A presentation to Christ's Hospital was now offered on 

my behalf, but was declined. My mother judged me to be 

too sensitive for the misunderstandings which the dress might 

34 



1 868- 1 877] CHILDHOOD 

occasion in Devonshire, where it was quite unknown. She 
preferred the idea of the Clergy Orphan School at Canter 
bury ; but election to the Foundation would take some time. 
Accordingly, on her return to Awliscombe, she resumed 
charge of her invalid lady, and so was enabled to send me, 
in November, to a school at Ottery St. Mary. The boys at 
Priory House were much bigger than any I had previously 
met, and during the first few weeks I got rather knocked 
about. But when I came back after the Christmas holiday, 
in January 1877, the bullies were gone, and all thence 
forward went well, except for my own misdoings. 

' Jacky ' Frost, the headmaster, was kindly but vigorous. 
One of his mighty slogs at cricket caught me between the 
shoulders, as I stood among the spectators, knocking me 
headlong, and put me into the doctor's hands for some 
days. I can recall, too, the particular vigour with which 
he once spanked me for a gorgeous expedition down the 
riverside. 

And the place itself was not unfriendly. Priory House 
presented its rather handsome old face to. the road, and the 
East end of the magnificent church. The premises behind 
included a Jacobean portion with a haunted staircase, still 
stained, as the legend went and our scrutiny of the grubby 
boards could not disprove, with the blood of a Cavalier or a 
Roundhead, who had fought and died upon it. 

My chief crony among the boys was named Oliver, a 
precocious genius, or quite phenomenal liar, possessing if 
I was to believe him a whole fleet of model battleships 
with guns and turrets^complete, which fought mimic engage 
ments and were reconstructed at intervals as the advances in 
naval science demanded. Our friendship started with a 
fight in which I was victorious. My other fight, with Johnny 
Marker, afterwards Colonel of the Coldstreams, ended less 
happily. Being bony and tough, he knocked me out almost 
at once. On the whole, however, existence at Ottery was 
delightfully serene. I was even making some progress at 
hockey, when new boots were needed. An aunt happened 

35 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1868-1877 

to come over, took me to an Ottery shop, and compelled me 
to accept a pair which I knew were too tight. They proved 
to be so. I suffered much in the following months, and still 
believe that my powers of running were permanently 
affected by those accursed constrictors. 

My headmaster, in his letters to my mother, insists, as 
much perhaps from policy as from charity, that my troubles 
were all due to thoughtlessness. Once, indeed, when walk 
ing down the main street of Ottery, I was abruptly roused 
from meditation by strange sounds and shadows, to find 
myself in the middle of the road, right under the pole of an 
advancing wagon between two towering cart-horses. It is 
no wonder that 'inattentive ' is the burden of my terminal 
reports. 

Events elsewhere now determined our stay in Devonshire. 
By the death of my grandmother, in the spring, the house 
hold at Preston was left without a head, my grandfather 
being still more or less of an invalid. My mother had been 
summoned North during the emergency, and it became 
evident that she was the only person who could take per 
manent charge. Our pleasant vicarage had thus to be 
abandoned, the furniture sold, and a move made to Lanca 
shire. Thither I followed my mother and brother just before 
Christmas 1877. 

The last months at Ottery were pleasant, the Fifth of 
November being specially memorable. In the morning we 
saw the town fire-brigade drenching with its hand-pump the 
many thatched roofs which faced the street. At night, amid 
the cries of * Tar Barriel ! Tar Barriel ! ' and the discharge 
of squibs and crackers, a flaming cask was rolled rumbling 
down the road past our gates, followed by a crowd of 
revellers. Jacky Frost became even more friendly than usual, 
professing a wish to keep me on almost any terms. But the 
difficulties of the long cross-country journey from Lancashire, 
and of declining the forthcoming election to the Canterbury 
Foundation, decided my mother to make an end. On the 
last day Jacky summoned me to his study, and gave me a 

36 



1868-1877] CHILDHOOD 

little copy of Scott's ' Marmion ' not for a prize, as he was 
careful to explain, but as a little memento of himself. 
Flodden and Fontarabia, the stubborn spearmen and the 
horn of Roland, were quickly found and remembered ; but 
the giver, I fear, in the strenuous days which followed, was 
almost as quickly forgotten. 



37 



CHAPTER III 

CANTERBURY AND PRESTON 
(1878-1881) 

The Clergy Orphan School; clothes, food and fagging; the 
mumps ; fishing the Gudgeon Stream ; the ghost in the tunnel ; 
the house at Preston ; fishing and archery ; my brother Frank ; 
Preston Grammar School; the Rev. A. B. Beaven; E. B. 
Osborne ; Ingleborough-; * The Tarn and the Lake ' ; geology. 

EACH of the next few years was sharply divided into two 
unequal periods. For ten months I was a schoolboy in the 
South; the remainder was holiday-time, spent in my grand 
father's house at Preston. In their immediate effect upon 
my habit of mind, as in their duration, the schooldays were 
the more considerable. 

In January 1878 I was taken to Canterbury by my mother. 
We made our way to the school doctor's house for the pre 
liminary medical examination. A second boy and mother 
arrived at the same moment. The aged white-haired doctor 
greeted our parents, took off his spectacles, searched our 
polls curiously with them for a few seconds (for what?), and 
the inspection, was over. Soon the fatal cab with mother, 
box, and apprehensive self was mounting St. Thomas's Hill. 
Half-way up the slope we passed a public-house and one or 
two small cottages. In front of them lounged a group of 
rather rough and grubby-looking boys, in queer red and 
black caps. My heart sank. I knew at once that I was 
'for it.' 

The Clergy Orphan School, known to its intimates more 
briefly as 'The Cos,' and bearing Fungar vice cotis for its 
punning motto, fed, clothed and educated more than a 
hundred and twenty boys. As with many other old founda 
tions, the traditions of a hardier age still persisted there, 

38 



1878-1881] CANTERBURY AND PRESTON 

All schoolboys were expected to rough, it a little, and the 
asperities of life during the "seventies were not peculiar to 
Canterbury. During the last forty years, successive head 
masters, from Dr. Upcott to Canon Burnside, backed by 
secretaries like W. C. Cluff, and a sympathetic Committee, 
have changed the place beyond recognition. In comity of 
life and in material comfort, St. Edmund's, like its sister 
St. Margaret's at Bushey, is now the equal of other good 
public schools; an improvement reflected in its average 
products. 

We were provided with one suit annually, an Eton jacket 
(Harrow type) of broadcloth, with waistcoat and trousers 
of gray tweed. An archaic peaked cap of black broadcloth 
was also furnished, but fell into disuse, I think, about 1880. 
Our clothes were supposed to last us for three years as 
bests/ 'seconds' and 'thirds' successively. These last, by 
the third year, had naturally come to be outgrown by their 
owners. Also, being destined for everyday use, including 
all games, they were soon worn out. A sewing-room patched, 
mended or exchanged our garments for us, but there came 
times when even I, never very observant of externals, was 
conscious of looking like a ragged street arab. To this 
extinction of personal pride our boots materially contributed, 
being of the clog-like build known, I believe, as 'Bluchers.' 
Since a few boys managed to keep themselves spick and span 
from the beginning to the end of their careers, I presume 
the allowance was not theoretically insufficient, but it left 
no margin for rapid growth, for accidents, or for very cold 
weather, when some of us suffered considerably. 

Our dietary, so Mr. Matheson informed my mother, had 
been adjusted on similar scientific principles. The unvary 
ing ration at breakfast and tea was a piece of bread, six 
inches long and two and a half inches square, one side of 
which had been moistened by a bare scrape of butter. By 
each plate stood a mug containing an inch or so of milk, an 
allowance that might be enlarged from tarnished tin jugs 
of hot water set at intervals along the table. Dinner varied 

39 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1878-1881 

with the day of the week. Sunday, with veal and open tart 
of semi-synthetic jam, was our feast day; Wednesday's 
treacle-tart the supreme luxury. Thursday was a day of 
fasting, for the dish was resurrection-pie, not wholly un 
palatable to my thinking, yet deemed to be so by custom, 
excepting the crust. Valiant in life as in death, and rendered 
desperate by hunger, old Stoddart defied the taboo, ate 
lustily of the forbidden thing, and then it seemed to us a 
judgment was smitten with boils. 

An optional relish to the midday meal was half a mug of 
small beer, poured out by Rusty, the headmaster's coach 
man, from a vessel like an immense watering-can. I have 
often wondered whether such small beer, probably brewed 
from honest malt and hops, had not some unsuspected tonic 
virtue. With its discontinuance as part of everyday school 
boy fare, the liability to minor nervous affections has 
certainly not diminished. Our surroundings might well 
have fostered such troubles, yet they were practically non 
existent, like dyspepsia. We were always hungry, of course, 
so that any additional edible thing which could be bought, 
begged, bartered, caught, picked or stolen, was a godsend. 
From swedes and turnips to yew-berries and hawthorn buds, 
nothing came amiss. If the boys, on an average, ran rather 
smaller than those at other schools, the difference may not 
have been wholly due to a scientifically minimized diet. 
Many, like myself, doubtless came from parents whose health 
had been prematurely broken, and the majority made up in 
toughness for what they lacked in stature. 

Shabby clothes and scanty fare were really minor evils to 
which a boy could soon adapt his appetite and his self- 
respect. Not so was the system of fagging a quaintly 
simple system. Any boy became the fag of anyone else who 
could thrash him into obedience. I have seen old Stoddart 
blubbering defiance for over an hour, while being steadily 
beaten, coram populo, with a knotted rope, until he could 
endure no more, and consented to fag for a stronger boy. 
Nor was the tyrant really a bad fellow; there were many, 

40 



1878-1881] CANTERBURY AND PRESTON 

many worse. He had started merely to maintain his rights ; 
to stop before he had gained his point would have been to 
admit defeat in public. 

Being the youngest and smallest boy in the whole school, 
I was naturally fag to everyone, and all my little private 
possessions were promptly 'borrowed.' After the first shock 
of resentment, I became resigned and trotted on my con 
tinuous errands without protest, or much punishment, 
except when a job for A was cancelled or interrupted by an 
order from the still more powerful B. Genuine discomfort 
began over earth-worms. Certain ardent naturalists kept 
birds, young cuckoos and the like (How I hated their gaping 
bills!), and these needed a daily diet of worms. Worms, 
therefore, the weakest of us had perforce to dig for every 
morning in the ditch outside the playground. In the bitter 
March weather we developed horrid bursting chilblains, 
so that delving in that half-frozen clay and water, until our 
tale was accomplished, remains a loathsome memory. 

Worse was soon to follow. Mumps broke out, and I woke 
in the West Dormitory, the one refuge from my round of 
servitude, to find my chops were sore and swollen. *So 
you've got 'em, you little 'ound,* was the sympathetic 
greeting of Mrs. P., the school nurse, and I was packed off 
to share with more than a dozen boys a small room in the 
Infirmary. The second and outer room was allotted to 
seniors, persons much more to Mrs. P.'s taste. We were left 
severely alone. With nothing to amuse them but a few 
scraps of 'The Young Folks' Weekly Budget,' the larger boys 
fell back immediately upon M. and myself, the two weakest, 
to provide sport for them. 

We were dogs, Toby and Carlo, kept kennelled "under our 
beds, and set to make pellets of folded paper. At intervals, 
when a fresh supply of ammunition was due, we were 
summoned forth and made to stand open-mouthed as targets 
for the rest, armed with miniature catapults. This amuse 
ment palling (we soon got used to the confinement and the 
sting), others more painful were devised. One brute, T. ? 

4 1 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1878-1881 

used to set us up on a washhand-stand, and then see how 
far his heavy fist could hit us on to the bed behind. B., more 
ingeniously, would make us crawl out backwards from our 
kennels, and then return us with a dexterous kick ; he played 
football for the school. So far had we fallen from all human 
standards, that I was genuinely amazed when, on the tenth 
day, the grim Stephenson, who had once laid out a farm 
labourer in a stone fight, entered at dinner-time from the 
outer room, to see that our portions of a quite unexpected 
and appetizing Irish stew were not taken away from us. 
At the time I did not recognize the possible connexion of 
that strange luxury and mansuetude with a visit, the same 
afternoon, from a doctor. Thank goodness ! He let me out. 

The experience, brief though it was, left several lasting 
scars on my temper. I learned to hate T., and in a less 
degree B., with a fury which smouldered for years. I learned 
what it was to be helpless so helpless that, when stricken by 
subsequent catastrophes, I have always been able to console 
myself by recalling this period, in which my fortunes had 
sunk to their absolute nadir. There seemed no way of 
escape from this unhappy order of things as established by 
grown-up authority. Any appeal, protest or complaint 
would have been quite futile. Boys might run away from 
the school, sometimes getting as far as London, but they 
were invariably and ignominiously recaptured. 

As I reflected, like Robinson Crusoe, upon my melancholy 
condition, childish logic suddenly perceived that there might 
be limits, after all, to non-resistance. Having suffered so 
much, I could not suffer very much more even if, with due 
regard, of course, to the strength of the oppressor, I sometimes 
hit back. A suitable test soon presented itself in the person 
of one not much older or stronger than myself. As he 
coerced me to some distasteful end, I noticed that a form 
stood close behind him. Emboldened by the strategic 
advantage I hit him in the face with all my puny force. 
Over the form, naturally, he toppled, was too surprised to 
retaliate effectively, and finally developed a black eye, for 

42 



1878-1881] CANTERBURY AND PRESTON 

my encouragement, and for a warning to similar small fry. 
But my career as a bruiser was a chequered one. The boys 
in my form were mostly much older and bigger than my 
self, and I won no victories there. Yet to be knocked down, 
especially on grass, by a swinging blow from someone whom 
you have already marked, is much less painful than it 
sounds, and gives time for recovering the breath. 

Hardened by these exercises, and having acquired by 
practice a respectable force and precision in stone-throwing, 
I now began to pass muster with my coevals. Like them I 
learned, at the price of many snufBings and chilblains, to 
endure cold since top-coats were not worn even in the 
depth of winter and to take my share of the knocks which 
come to small boys who have to join in violent games with 
big ones. To be tossed in a blanket, even to the top of a 
high schoolroom, is much less of an ordeal, as I can testify, 
than its reputation suggests unless the blanket splits. 
Discipline in general was vigorous if erratic, minor mis 
demeanours being punished daily by the captain of the 
school with a stout ground-ash or a cricket-stump; and 
when the captain was some mighty cricketer like W. N. 
Roe, each stroke left a lasting impression. Nevertheless 
small boys, displaying no notable proficiency in games, 
could often scuttle off, after roll-call on a half-holiday, to 
range the countryside undisturbed. 

Only at a somewhat later date did I become conscious of 
the beauty of these Kentish woodlands in the spring, car 
peted with flowers, fretted above with sprouting buds against 
the blue sky, and so altogether glorious that one burst into 
uncouth carolling when out of earshot. Bird's-nesting was 
the common objective. Mine was the trickle of water 
beyond the Gudgeon Wood, known, lucus a non lucendo, as 
the Gudgeon Stream. Where it flowed in the sunlit open 
towards the culvert under the Whitstable Railway it con 
tained only loaches and miller's thumbs. Above, it ran 
under thickets like a miniature trout-stream, alternate 
hollow pool and rapid shallow. The pools, often nearly 

43 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1878-1881 

two feet deep, could be fished with a hazel rod, stout cotton, 
a roach hook or even a bent pin, a small worm, and a frag 
ment of cork for float. The quarry consisted chiefly of 
minnows, so vigorous, so large and so different from the 
minnows previously known to me, that I long believed them 
to be the Fordidge trout of Izaak Walton. A dozen and a 
half counted as a good basket, and made a not unsavoury 
mess when cooked over the lavatory gas in the dripping 
used for greasing footballs. 

This enchanting sport had its perils, being regarded as 
poaching or trespassing by the 'knaves' of the adjoining 
farms, and mercilessly punished. So, when crouched in the 
little channel, well under the bushes, I have watched with 
anxiety my fellow-angler, the agile Bunny Williams, dis 
covered, chased on to the plough by the huge limbs of 
young Moses, the most active of the knaves, and nearly 
caught because his superior pace availed him little among 
the clods. The same indefatigable hunter spied us a little 
later in a field not far from the school, and as we ran from 
him my bootlace broke, the boot worked off, and I fell 
behind. The enemy gripped me with one great paw : the 
other, to my terror, held a sickle. Satisfied with one victim, 
he called out 'Ye can sta-art ! ' to Williams, who had stopped 
on seeing the capture. Instead of making off, that sturdy 
friend, coming nearer, assailed young Moses with a fire of 
satirical personalities which made him pause. The asper 
sions on his appearance and physical powers had at first no 
effect. 'Ye can sta-art, 9 he repeated stubbornly. But some 
reference to his legs proved too much for him. Flinging me 
to the ground, he rushed at his tormentor, who drew him 
away over the grass, dodging him with so much dexterity 
that in watching the scene I forgot my own danger. A cry 
of 'Run, you little fool I' recalled my straying senses, and 
gathering up my useless boot, I reached the road in safety, 
where my liberator soon joined me. 

Near the Gudgeon Stream I met with an adventure more 
dangerous and more curious. Before the branch line from 

44 



1878-1881] CANTERBURY AND PRESTON 

Canterbury to Whitstable reaches the culvert, it passes 
through a long, old-fashioned tunnel. To walk through this 
tunnel was held to be a daring feat, for it was narrow, was 
reputed to have only one manhole in the wall some five 
hundred yards from each end, and emergence on the 
Canterbury side might land the pioneer in the midst of 
hostile railwaymen. With a friend, 'Widow' Thorpe, I 
set out one day to attempt the passage. Only one train ran 
to and fro on the single line; so after watching this enter 
the tunnel on its way to Canterbury, we followed confidently 
in its wake. The roar of the train died away before us, but 
the tunnel was still obscured by the eddying smoke. We 
had advanced nearly five hundred yards, and were feeling 
for the manhole by keeping our sticks against the wall, when 
we were brought to a halt by the appearance of what looked 
like a tall gray figure standing on the track. Was it a work 
man who had walked out of the manhole; or was it merely 
a pillar of eddying smoke? I had much the keener vision 
of the two, and still believe it to have been the latter. So 
disquieting nevertheless was the phenomenon, that we 
decided after a short consultation to postpone our venture, 
and run back the way we had come. Being a well-known 
sprinter, the Widow set a pace over the sleepers which I 
could not maintain. Panting after him, I became aware of 
a sound behind me which grew in a few moments into the 
unmistakable rattle and roar of an advancing locomotive. 
The race begun half in jest was continued in frantic terror. 
Fear lent me wings ; indeed there was not a second to spare. 
As we reached daylight and flung ourselves exhausted on 
the ballast by the tunnel's mouth, an engine rushed out 
above us on its way to Whitstable. Evidently it had been 
waiting in a siding at the far side of the tunnel for the train 
to pass, and it must have caught us but for that menacing 
wraith. We thenceforward 3 and others for the time, left the 
tunnel to itself. 

Self-protection at first so engaged my thoughts that few 
remained available for my lessons. This incapacity, or 

45 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1878-1881 

indifference, moreover did not vanish with the shrinking of 
its cause, but turned to simple idleness. Much more openly 
contemptuous of books was an older school-fellow who, 
having an unusual allowance of pocket-money, fared sump 
tuously among us. Leaving the school, he returned as an 
Old Boy, natty and cheerful as ever, but an assistant in 
Marshall and Snelgrove's. I had given little thought to the 
future, yet such a career fell so far below any way of life I 
had conceived for myself, and was such a contrast to M.'s 
prosperous independence while he was with us, that it 
seemed a judgment upon idleness. Fifty years ago the pro 
fessional classes looked upon retail trade as something lying 
outside the social pale, and I was too immature, and too 
conventional by nature, not to be infected by the prejudice. 
At the moment it did me good service, for, in the fright 
occasioned by my snobbery, I took to my books again. 

Fiction being a necessity in the long winter evenings, it 
was politic to bring from home at least one paper-backed 
novel. When read, this could be exchanged for another, 
and so would circulate until, hopelessly dog's-eared and 
tattered, it finally fell to pieces. Oddly enough, 'Jane 
Eyre' and 'Wuthering Heights' moved me more than 
Dickens, Scott or Thackeray ; I could never forgive Esmond 
for marrying Lady Castlewood. But the description of 
Lowood School, poignantly recalling my own discomforts, 
induced a pleasant mood of sentimental self-pity; the 
dream-ghost of Catherine at the window thrilled me as 
even c The Black Cat' and c The Fall of the House of Usher ' 
did not. They were too c steep.' Who would really build 
a family mansion on the edge of a tarn? 

Since our Easter holidays lasted little longer than a week, 
I generally had to spend them at the school a great oppor 
tunity for exploration but at Midsummer and Christmas I 
went to my grandfather's house in Lancashire. Since this 
became my home for some twelve years, and had much 
influence over my mental outlook, I may be forgiven if I 
describe it briefly. 



1878-1881] CANTERBURY AND PRESTON 

The plateau upon which Proud Preston is built descends 
somewhat abruptly at its southern and western edges to the 
fields bordering the Ribble. The southern slope is laid out 
with unusual taste as a public park : the adjoining slope to 
the west is occupied by a series of private houses. Here in 
1838 my great-uncle William Dickson had designed and 
built a joint residence for my grandfather and himself. The 
eastern front along the road to the park showed a pair of 
semi-detached houses, of excellent brickwork with portals 
of sandstone, simple, but quite finely cut and proportioned. 
The more southern of the two houses was my grandfather's, 
and was then numbered 33. 

The outlook eastward was typical Lancashire; past 
blackened elms and a little field to the high wall of the 
railway goods-yard and ever-shunting wagons. The sur 
prise came when one passed the airy hall, effectively lighted 
by a tall staircase window, and had reached the rooms on 
the west. The bank behind the house dropped so suddenly 
that the ground-floor was now carried aloft upon a row of 
arches. These supported a broad verandah, running for 
fifty yards or more along the entire front of the joint building, 
floored with cleanly lead, the rails and trellised pillars half- 
hidden under climbing pear-trees. Upon this sunny elevated 
promenade the windows of drawing-room and dining-room 
opened, with a view over trees, gardens, fields and river to 
the wooded slopes of Penwortham, a mile away. The white 
cottage of our gardener-coachman in the middle distance 
was the single building then visible. Later came a railway 
embankment, and now the last vestiges of nature are buried 
by street upon street of little houses. 

The quarters allotted to my brother and myself in this 
establishment were the day and night nurseries. Here the 
amateur architect had gone astray. Not only had he made 
the rooms too low, so that the ceilings in places sloped to 
within three feet of the floor, but the single approach to the 
whole top storey was by a dark, narrow, creaking stair with 
a nasty twist at the bottom. Great cisterns collected the 

47 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1878-1881 

rain-water from the roof by covered conduits, providing 
delightful channels for sailing-boats in wet weather. A big 
cupboard contained my uncle Herbert's naval sword, and 
the more ponderous sabre of a Buck cousin who had fought 
at Waterloo : invaluable weapons when searching under the 
beds for a robber. Just across the stairs lay the museum- 
laboratory of my uncle Edmund, crammed with his geo 
logical collections and scientific paraphernalia. His tools 
and lathe, to which my father's made a welcome addition, 
were housed far below in a big dim cellar, in which we 
somehow managed to practise carpentry and engineering 
untroubled by the perpetual twilight. 

From the garden, the house, with its long arcade and 
verandah, made quite an imposing spectacle. The gardens 
themselves were so diversified by irregular contours, trees, 
shrubs, hedges, greenhouses, flowers and vegetables as to 
seem more extensive than they were. In two long fields 
below, sheep, at times, provided excellent hunting ; a tennis- 
court less irregular pursuits. Three small springs flowed 
out along the edge where slope and level merged, the largest 
of them in its ditch- wise passage to the river affording cover 
for water-rats, eels and sticklebacks. Altogether a Land of 
Promise for two small boys, left very much to themselves in 
a household of grown-ups. 

Illness had curtailed my grandfather's power of walking, 
without affecting his ability as a solicitor. Under him, with 
two married brothers, worked my uncle Edmund; more 
from duty than inclination, his thoughts being all for science. 
His cheerful and strenuous junior, my uncle Arthur, was 
training as a land-agent. Social and housekeeping duties 
occupied my mother and her young sister, Adela. So long 
as the two small boys, the last and least in the household, 
refrained from doings which impinged beyond concealment 
upon their elders in their several orbits, they could play as 
they pleased. 

I cannot recall the period without regretting much that 
happened. Canterbury had taught me to fight for myself- 

48 



1878-1881] CANTERBURY AND PRESTON 

my brother's gentle temper made it easy to play the tyrant. 
The home-bred boy stands a poor chance when matched 
against the product of a rough boarding-school, who is also 
the older and stronger of the pair. I was far too deeply 
attached to my brother Frank to become a regular bully, 
but was too oftfcn selfish, hasty and overbearing. Never 
theless, though sparring continually, we had great fun 
together. Battles with tin soldiers delighted us for years, 
even working at model boats, steam engines and the lathe 
could not displace them in favour. 

Among outdoor sports fishing came first. The passion 
was roused, or revived, by a walk in the park near the old 
Tram Bridge over the Ribble. Just below it we saw a long 
green and white cork float slowly pulled under the water; 
when it was pulled out an eel followed it. Who could resist 
this appearance of a strange thing from the unknown deep? 
Having procured lance- wood rods (is. 6d.) from the Fisher- 
gate gunsmith, we were introduced by a friend to catching 
roach in a pond, and then to grander quarry. A day on the 
Brock with my uncle Edmund brought me my first trout, so 
happily proportioned that he could be borne home in a 
bottle, and housed in the sunken trough by the tennis-lawn. 
Fortunately the spring that fed this receptacle harboured 
water-shrimps, so the trout lived there for several years, 
until a huge flood sweeping up to the garden foot restored 
him to liberty. 

The great ponds at Messrs. Swainson and Birley's mills 
provided fiercer joys. It was a strange place to go a-fishing 
among mighty buildings tremulous and humming with 
machinery, massive beam engines, tall chimneys belching 
smoke, a labyrinth of hot-water conduits and high palings, 
black paths and coarse herbage. Stearn drifted off and over 
the tepid c lodges ' ; the lubricating oil which came into them 
from the engines fattened hundreds of carp, running up to 
four pounds or more, and some large black eels. From 
dough stiffened with cotton-wool we advanced to genuine 
bread paste as a standard bait; sometimes bread alone 

49 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1878-1881 

would serve. If a fair-sized piece of bread were thrown into 
the water on a calm day, it would slowly disintegrate, and 
thereby attract fish to the surface until the water seethed 
with their rises and gobblings. A cube of bread cast like a 
fly towards the focus of excitement would then be seized, and 
seldom by a small fish, The carp fought splendidly, so that 
the sport in these odd surroundings surpassed any that we 
found elsewhere. Tench vaster still could be seen sailing 
among the water-lilies in a pond at Penwortham Hall : but 
only once in many days' fishing did one bite at a worm, and 
that bite was missed. We surveyed much of the country 
round, testing pond after pond, only to catch small perch, 
roach or eels ; occasionally nothing at all, as when, in our 
innocence, we spent an afternoon harrying the poisonous 
waters of the Darwen. 

Archery was the rival sport. My mother passed over to 
us her bow, a delightful 38-pounder, and a green morocco 
sheath of the most perfect arrows I ever saw. To these 
dainty relics of her early prowess we were further attracted 
by the idea of emulating the mediaeval bowmen. But alas ! 
instead of 400 yards we found our range was about 150, and 
no more than 100 for reasonable accuracy. Cheap arrows 
proved too unsteady in flight for serious purposes. Even the 
perfectly finished and balanced rarities from the maternal 
quiver flew with just so much undulation as to make the 
hitting of a horizontal mark, like a fence rail, a matter of 
chance. But with an upright stick it was different. The 
arrow kept to a vertical course so faithfully that the legends 
of Little John and the rest of them hitting a peeled willow 
became quite credible. Even I could splinter a broom 
handle, or the like, at 25 or 30 yards. The precious arrows 
in time were reduced to three in number, and my vanity 
led to the loss of another, A sceptical visitor challenged me 
with the offer of half-a-crown to hit, first shot, a bottle placed 
on a post at the far end of the tennis-lawn. These ordeals 
needed some force; I shot hard; the bottle, a small black 
beer-bottle, rang and toppled, but the arrow, alas! was 

50 



1878-1881] CANTERBURY AND PRESTON 

splintered into fragments. It was an expensive half-crown, 
for those perfect arrows of the 'fifties could not be replaced. 
Then one of the two survivors pitched, by some mis 
chance, on the roof of the house, rattling down into the 
gutter where even the longest ladder could never reach it 
owing to the projection of the verandah. Nor could it be 
dislodged with a fishing-rod from a skylight. Nothing 
remained but a crawl down the slates. 1 managed to 
traverse the sloping diagonal, head-first on my stomach, 
reached the gutter and pitched the sacred arrow to safety 
on the gravel fifty feet below. Then, and only then, did I 
discover, to my horror, that I could not turn to crawl back 
without rolling over the edge. There I stuck, utterly terri 
fied, I could not bring myself to send my brother for help : 
that would involve his contempt, and both of us in the wrath 
of our elders. So inch by inch I began to push myself back 
wards up that ghastly slope. A feat which a trained climber 
could have performed with ease in a couple of minutes took 
me twenty, or so it seemed, and as I made the diagonal 
traverse to the skylight, and was seized by the boot, and 
helped to safety, I vowed that not for a dozen arrows would 
I be such an idiot again. The acquisition of an air-gun 
shortly afterwards put an end to the need for any further 
follies of that sort. 

My brother, for all his gentleness, had the greater courage 
of the two. It was he who dared me to jump from the ten- 
foot platform at the deep end of the swimming-baths, and 
set the example. It was he who tried the creaking ice on 
the black tarn above Scorton, and discovered that it would 
bear, when all the low-lying waters would not, and so. gave 
us five days of perfect and undisturbed skating. It was he 
who first ventured out on the top of the walls separating the 
deep 'lodges' at New Hall Lane, to reach the currents in 
which the carp bit most freely. It was he who led the way, 
after we had climbed the rusty fire-escape up the side of one 
of those big cotton-mills, to walk along the coping of the roof. 
The unexpected bird's-eye vista of mill-ponds, roofs, and 

5 1 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1878-1881 

solemn chimney-shafts seen from that coping gave me, I 
think, my very first glimpse of the spacious de-humanized 
grandeur such industrial panoramas might display. It 
dominated my dreams for some years, and a picture of 
Seven Chimneys painted thirty years later is based upon that 
childish memory. The picture now belongs to the Eton 
friend, T. B. Lewis, who commissioned my most ambitious 
essay in this type of painting the series of Blackburn 
landscapes at Samlesbury Hall. 

Our liberty to seek external adventure was accompanied 
by domestic comforts which made an almost ludicrous con 
trast to the spartan life at Canterbury. The house was warm 
and spacious ; the servants all friendly and efficient. Kate, 
the tall, slender, gentle under-housemaid, had the charge 
of us. The daughter of one of my grandfather's tenants, she 
had a sporting spirit, rescuing us from trouble when she 
could, and if attacked with pillows, capable of dealing a 
swashing blow before which all opposition went headlong. 
The food also was excellent, for my grandfather had the 
instincts of a bon viveur, by which we profited. Even before 
we reached the dignity of admission to dinner-parties, an 
occasional glass of port or sherry was permitted, but neither, 
to my mind, had the distinction of an ancient cowslip wine, 
made from some recipe of my grandmother's. This golden 
liqueur, for it was a potent syrup rather than a wine, had a 
subtle character and a flower-like fragrance worthy of much 
greater fame, I suppose the making of it is now a lost art, 
like the secret of a certain standard luncheon-dish of minced 
veal, or was a personal gift, like the making of oat-cakes, 
milk-cakes and other toasted-and-buttered delicacies of the 
North-country. 

Family portraits, from the seventeenth century onwards, 
some fine old furniture, much old silver and china, blended 
not inharmoniously with Victoriaa flock-paper, prismatic 
chandeliers and solid mahogany. The c Standard,' Cornhill 
Magazine ' and c Illustrated London News ' kept us in touch 
with the world ; the bound volumes of the last, from its 

52 



1878-1881] CANTERBURY AND PRESTON 

commencement, with the cartoons from * Punch/ introduced 
us to recent history and politics. In that Conservative 
household all that was evil, except personal immorality, was 
represented by Joseph Chamberlain. The religious bias was 
equally, and more oppressively, definite. It was quite a 
pleasant shock to hear an uncle quote, with unholy delight, 
a phrase he had caught at some meeting: 'The sweetest 
word that ever was breathed Protestantism.' 

On Sunday freedom ceased. Morning and evening in our 
best clothes, with the hateful addition of gloves, we accom 
panied our elders to the square family pew in Christ Church, 
to contemplate over its high panels the memorial tablet to 
the Rev. Carus Wilson (the Mr. Brocklehurst of Jane Eyre's 
c Lowood 3 ?), to work out mental calculations based on the 
Dominical or Sunday letter, and to have an open eye for 
any other distraction. The friendly vicar, our neighbour 
Mr. Firth, interested us less than the headmaster of the 
Preston Grammar School, the Rev. Alfred Beaven Beaven. 
Once, it was rumoured, he had preached. But he had 
started his sermon with the phrase c seated in your pews 
like stalled oxen, 9 and the simile had proved too much for 
a prosperous middle-class congregation. His help thence 
forth was confined to reading the Lessons. With his dark 
beard, beetling brow, eyeglass screwed tight into his right 
eye, and his reputation for flogging, Mr. Beaven was a 
memorable figure as he poised himself two yards back from 
the lectern and turned the doings of Elijah and Ahab into 
dramatic reality. He had indeed something of the look and 
temper of a minatory prophet, coloured by the disdain of a 
scholar for the stolid citizens among whom his lot was cast. 
I did not guess how soon I should come to know him. 

In January 1880 my charming and spirited aunt Adela, 
whose coining of age had been celebrated a month earlier, 
developed scarlet fever in a form so virulent that recovery 
was seen to be hopeless from the first. My brother and I 
were packed off at once to an uncle's, but the Canterbury 
regulations, scrupulous on this point, forbade my return 

53 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1878-1881 

thither. Preston Grammar School proved less exacting, so 
there I was sent for six months as a boarder with the dreaded 
Mr. Beaven. 

His official residence, Avenham House, had been designed 
to accommodate some forty boys, or more. It now main 
tained less than a dozen. The increasing number of public 
schools, and the social status they were supposed to confer, 
were everywhere depriving the local grammar schools of 
their well-to-do middle-class patronage. Preston too had, 
at the moment, to face competition with a neighbouring 
grammar school, reputed to be less strenuous, more com 
fortable, and therefore more attractive to soft heads, soft 
bodies and soft maternal hearts. Personally I found little to 
complain about. Compared with Canterbury, the food, the 
quarters and the company seemed quite civilized. Though 
kept strictly in my place, being once more the youngest 
among the boarders, I found the others to be friendly and 
tolerant, when once they had cured my selfish or self-defen 
sive attitude by ridicule. Of the town boys, about a hundred 
in number, we saw very little except in class. I fought, of 
course, with several, and had a nodding acquaintance with 
many, but our interests really lay apart. There were no 
organized games, and the ramshackle premises afforded little 
inducement or opportunities for other recreation. An inex 
haustible supply of fiction, however, could be borrowed from 
the Harris Free Library, at our very door, to animate such 
intervals as were not required for work. 

Our headmaster did not allow those intervals to be many 
or lengthy. Himself a classical scholar caught up by the 
movement which was sweeping away the old classical 
system, he devoted every thought not required by his zeal 
for Disraelian Conservatism to the Oxford Local Examina 
tions. Year after year the school triumphed over its fellows 
in that competition ; but the price of success proved in the 
end to be too heavy, for it entailed a strain upon the endur 
ance of the boys which was more than tender-hearted parents 
could stand. Industry and discipline were enforced by the 

54 



1878-1881] CANTERBURY AND PRESTON 

cane. In his boarding-house and in playful moments, Mr. 
Beaven preferred the paper-knife, which he wielded with 
the skill of an adept. To catch us pillow-fighting, when the 
person was protected by nothing more than a nightshirt, 
gave him particular satisfaction. 

Being forewarned, I took care at the entrance examina 
tion to make no display of erudition, thereby just escaping 
the Oxford Locals, to the headmaster's subsequent regret. 
His assistant masters were practised boy-drivers, but in the 
obscurity of the Third Form I could evade the ferocious 
humour of Maddox over simple Caesar and Xenophon, and 
establish quite friendly relations with his gentler colleague 
Pugh. The acid comments of Atkinson I escaped alto 
gether, since I had not to ' take ' Chemistry. But our French 
and Mathematics were in charge of the grim Osborne, and 
from him there was no escape. A martinet with a sense of 
humour, showing little mercy to stupidity and none to idle 
ness, Osborne made it his business to see that the set work 
was really done by everyone under him. Such teachers 
make the reputation of a school, but from concentration 
upon their daily routine, seldom acquire the social con 
nexions which qualify a man for the plums of the profession. 
So it was then with Osborne ; yet, with the possible excep 
tion of Edmond Warre, I owe more to him than to any other 
of my many masters. 

His methods in the mathematical class were simple. We 
began school by standing in a large crescent facing the 
blackboard. Osborne walked behind us, cane in hand, 
receiving from each in turn his exercise of ten sums or 
problems worked out in a book. Glancing at them, he read 
out, c Number one ; right. Number two; wrong.' Whack, 
went the cane. 'Number three; wrong.' Whack, once 
more, and so to the painful end, which in my case was apt 
to be c The whole dirty and untidy/ Whack, Whack: and 
they were no gentle cuts. The effect, however, was magical. 
I came to him indolent, inaccurate, slovenly. The thwack- 
ings promptly discredited indolence, more slowly disciplined 

55 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1878-1881 

inaccuracy, and warred so vigorously with my natural un 
tidy habits, that I rose finally to the third place in that well- 
seasoned company. Further advance was impossible ; Shaw, 
at the top, was never known to make a mistake. The second 
boy had an equally perfect record, until one day Osborne 
announced with genuine surprise, c Foxcroft; your ninth 
sum is wrong l\ and laid the cane softly upon his shoulder, 
like a respectful accolade. 

Over French I got into more serious trouble. The exer 
cises and passages set for translation were really too long for 
boys who, like myself, had no natural gift for languages, and 
I soon found myself condemned to write out and translate 
several pages of a book. I did so, somewhat perfunctorily, 
in true poena fashion, skipping a tough sentence here and 
there. When I handed in the scribbled sheets, Osborne 
asked me if I had done it all. I answered 'Yes. 3 Two days 
later my scrawl, with the omissions neatly annotated by him 
in red ink, was passed on to ,the headmaster. That famous 
expert with the rod forthwith decreed ten cuts of the cane 
for lying. Duly extended over a desk, I endured six ; then 
the agony became unbearable. I turned and said that if he 
would spare me the remaining four I would give him my 
word never to tell a lie again. e That hardly bears, I fear, 
on the present case, 3 said Mr. Beaven, with something like 
a chuckle. 'Go down again.' So down I went, to emerge 
weeping and sore, but consoling myself with the thought 
that I had escaped being committed irrevocably to telling 
the truth. 

Two holiday events stand out from the rest. At: Whitsun 
tide, my grandfather, after describing the Ingleborough 
country where he had spent part of his boyhood, said that 
we ought to see it, and produced two half-sovereigns for the 
excursion. Starting by a very early train we duly reached 
Settle, but the walk thence to Clapham Caves, along dusty 
roads in a hot sun, seemed far longer than it looked on the 
ordnance map. We were only eleven and nine respectively. 
A clamber through the then undamaged caves (the flood 

56 



1878-1881] CANTERBURY AND PRESTON 

which ruined the Giants' Hall occurred in the following 
August), with a guide and guttering candle-stumps, restored 
our spirits ; the dark ravine of Troll Gill filled us with awe, 
the unknown depths of Gaping Gill Hole with curiosity; 
patches of grubby snow on the north face of the hill pro 
vided unexpected snowballs, while to stand in the wind on 
the summit of Ingleborough was like conquering the Matter- 
horn. The descent westward upset all our calculations. 
Our legs were too short for skipping the limestone ridges, 
and we arrived at Ingleton breathless, only to see the tail 
lamps of our train receding. It was two in the morning 
before we got home by some roundabout route, chilly, stiff 
and empty, but confirmed mountaineers thenceforth. 

The second experience was a visit in the summer to the 
Pedders at Finsthwaite near the foot of Windermere. The 
delights of it are already recorded in ' The Tarn and the 
Lake ' ; the essence of them was the blend of fishing with 
clear air, clear water and variegated mountain scenery; a 
combination unknown to industrial Lancashire, and which, 
even though the actual sport be meagre, still seems to me 
the finest combination in the world. I had not, however, 
the least inclination to express these feelings in any form of 
art ; it was to science that my attention was overwhelmingly 
attracted. 

My uncle Edmund had devoted every moment which he 
could spare from his work as a solicitor to gardening, botany, 
geology, chemistry and electricity. Certain events now 
involved him in a scheme for the scientific education of 
working men, with Geology for his special subject. He con 
ceived an ambitious course of lectures, which eventually 
would cover all the aspects of that science, physical and 
stratigraphical, petrological and biological, with the prepara 
tion of a detailed syllabus to serve as hand-book. He had 
previously admitted us, on occasion, to electrical and 
chemical demonstrations. He now enrolled me as a totally 
unauthorized assistant for his geological scheme. Every 
evening, after family prayers at ten o'clock, I was supposed 

57 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1878-1881 

to go to bed. I duly went upstairs, but, allowing an interval 
for the house to settle down, slipped across to my uncle's 
room, and worked with him there till midnight. His 
library, and his really fine collection of specimen rocks and 
fossils, soon made me familiar with the outlines of the 
science : at night, with microscope and polariscope, I learned 
to distinguish between minerals, and to puzzle over problems 
like Eozoon Canadense. Excursions to promising quarries with 
the learned and dignified vicar of Hoghton, the Rev. 
Jonathan Shortt, and a stout tobacconist of exceptional 
scientific insight, taught me something of the practical side 
of the business. 

Eighteen months later I had the subject so well in hand 
that I consulted my uncles Edmund and Arthur as to 
whether it might not be possible to adopt Geology as a 
profession. Mining and its exploratory processes were then 
in their infancy; the openings for geological teachers were 
few and ill-paid. One of the finest geologists known to my 
consultants received only 200 a year for his Professorship. 
It would be safer to follow the ordinary routine. Accord 
ingly, when the great syllabus was finished and in print, I 
had to let Geology drop : not without regret. Never before 
had any sort of knowledge come to me so easily, or excited 
so much pleasurable speculation as to cause and effect. 
Indeed, as the cane of Osborne had impressed upon me the 
disadvantages of being inaccurate, so the enthusiasm of my, 
uncle Edmund aroused and stimulated a spirit of inquiry 
which became a habit. 



CHAPTER IV 

CANTERBURY AND ETON 
(1881-1884) 

Canterbury after the epidemic; a great schoolboy; the snow 
storm of 1 88 1 ; impressions at Windsor; a scholarship at 
Eton ; cursed by Ruskin ; College at Eton ; discipline and idle 
ness ; the Wall Game ; ' Eton as She is Not * ; ragging and Its 
consequences ; a rebellion. 

ON returning to Canterbury in September 1880, 1 found the 
school strangely subdued and chastened. During my absence 
in the spring, an epidemic of measles had broken out with 
which the nursing equipment and accommodation were 
naturally quite unable to cope. In the crowded infirmary 
more than forty boys at one time lay seriously ill, of whom 
three, including Harrison, my particular friend, had died. 
The spectacle of a distracted mother stretched weeping, on 
the bare floor, by the body of her only son, touched many 
who were familiarized with ordinary hardships, and sur 
vived as a legend to strengthen the arguments of those who 
in after years were to bring about a reform. 

One small mitigation of my hungry life was secured by 
gaining admission to the 'Special 1 drawing class, with a 
greasy laborious copy of a lithographed sheep. I aspired to 
no such expert skill as that of the son of Eber, well known 
later as Fred Mayor; but the 'Specials ' were given a piece 
of bread to rub out with, instead of india-rubber, and such 
an edible was worth an effort. A more substantial mitiga 
tion soon became visible in the distance. The mathematical 
accuracy I had so painfully acquired at Preston quickly 
attracted notice, leading first to promotion and the Fifth 
Form, then, in the following summer, to particular notice 
from Archbishop Tait as 'a very little boy to get so many 

59 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1881-1884 

prizes.' From the Fifth Form, as from Pisgah, the Sixth 
Form could be plainly seen; a land of tea and coffee, of 
bread and cheese and beer for supper, not to mention the 
comparative seclusion of the class-room, and the right to 
explore its bookshelves. 

The desert which separated us from that Promised Land 
was formed by the Odes ' of Horace. The seeker for admis 
sion had to learn them by heart, bo'ok after book, and pass 
an examination in them aided by memory alone. I was 
always miserably slow at learning by heart, so Spring, 
Summer and Autumn went by, while I wandered about 
with a Horace in my pocket, devoting every free moment 
to a task which seemed interminable. In the end I scraped 
through, enough of the hardly mastered verse remaining in 
my head to give me afterwards a repute as a Horatian 
scholar which was quite fallacious. At the time the result 
was to plunge me into a wholly new environment. I became 
once more a little boy among big ones, being thirteen while 
the majority were sixteen, seventeen or eighteen. 

Two figures dominated the rest ; one of them, the most 
remarkable schoolboy I ever met. Walton Emerson Corn 
wall (Emerson was a relative, I believe), known from a 
mutilated right hand as Nipper One-Thumb,' was Captain 
of the school, and of the cricket and football teams. 
Strong, square, upright, rigorous, inflexible, he seemed to 
infuse the discipline of ancient Rome into all that he under 
took. Like Osborne, he believed in the rod, and the com 
pany that he drilled learned to manoeuvre like guardsmen 
to the thwack of his ground-ash. Cornwall was no natural 
cricketer, but he compelled the Eleven to practise as they 
had never practised before, particularly at fielding, so that 
his Captaincy was an almost unbroken series of victories. 
He had more real authority than any master, daring even, 
on the last day of the term, to punish some rowdiness by 
ordering the whole school, from the Fifth Form down 
wards, to stand in line in the big schoolroom, at attention 
and in absolute silence, for one full hour, while he sat 

60 



1881-1884] CANTERBURY AND ETON 

at a table on the dais, quietly working with text and 
lexicon. 

So deeply did his character impress me that I always 
looked forward to meeting Cornwall again, in some station 
of life proportionate to his merits. That meeting fortune 
did not permit. On leaving Oxford, Cornwall achieved 
conspicuous administrative and social success in Australia, 
having entirely thrown off, it would seem, his primal 
austerity. After some years, on returning for a vacation 
in Europe, he was taken ill at Rome, where he died. Rome 
was indeed his spiritual city, but it was hard that he should 
come to her only to join the more famous 'inheritors of 
unfulfilled renown ' who are buried by the Ostian Gate. 

Cornwall may have loved order and authority rather too 
much; Helby, the second prominent figure in the class 
room, went to the opposite extreme, being as impatient and 
violent as the other was self-controlled. An excellent bowler, 
his physical strength enabled him to throw the cricket-ball 
more than 100 yards at the age of sixteen, and his reck 
less use of missiles, whether in anger or horse-play, made 
him dangerous company. Cornwall alone could keep him 
in some sort of order ; when Cornwall left, the small fry 
were at his mercy. He was no deliberate bully, merely a 
constant peril, especially when warmed with a little beer. 
He nearly killed me once by throwing a big jam-jar at my 
head; but I did not remember how much I had feared 
his rages till a dozen years later. I was then a respectable 
publisher, attending a Festival Service in St. PauPs, when 
his familiar figure strode up the centre aisle, defiant as ever. 
The sight was too much lor me. Slipping quietly to one 
side, I tiptoed back to safety and Ludgate Hill. 

Over all the assistant masters at this period a pleasant 
group, including as a junior that trusty friend of the school 
Mr. H. G. Watson the tall figure of E. H. Oldham towered. 
He could play football, he could bat, he could bowl and he 
could catch the great, shy trout of the Stour. One feat of 
his I am glad to have seen. He was asked one day to throw 

61 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1881-1884 

the cricket-ball. A sunken kerbstone marked the hundred 
yards limit, but Oldham's throw, soaring far above it, hit 
the wall of the school near the porch, some fifteen yards 
beyond, and hit it three or four feet from the ground. 
117 yards was thus a fair estimate for this casual trial ; only 
two yards less than the throw of Bonnor, the giant Australian. 
The memory of that soaring ball makes me envy those who 
witnessed the throw of 136 yards by Forbes, the Etonian, 
which was not believed in until it had been surpassed. 

The zeal of the school for cricket was enhanced by the 
performance of W. N. Roe, the late Captain, in making 
415 not out at Cambridge, a record at the time. It extended 
even to the Second Eleven, which in J. E. Dennis and Gordon 
Gumming possessed two youthful bowlers who swept all 
before them in a sequence of almost ludicrous victories. 
These I came to attend in the capacity of umpire, and of 
such visits paid to the outer world in connexion with 
cricket, none was so memorable as a match at Chilham 
Castle. There Colonel Harvey made us free of the grounds, 
and those who were not actively engaged on the cricket- 
pitch could fish in the lake. This remarkable sheet of water, 
fed by springs from the chalk and milky-white with sus 
pended lime, contained quantities of roach, some of con 
siderable size, providing a pleasant change from any other 
fishing I could get. The Stour we might not attempt ; the 
Gudgeon Stream, though I got one fair-sized eel from it, 
had lost its novelty, and the tench which I discovered in the 
Butcher's Pond were more unexpected than exciting. 

The great snowstorm of 1881 caught rne at the end of a 
visit to my uncle Richard at Windsor. I had been duly 
impressed by the splendours of the Castle, and of the Library 
with its famous view of Eton across the river, but by nothing 
so profoundly as by the service in St. George's Chapel. To 
occupy one of those canopied stalls, encrusted with heraldic 
memorials, while real princes and princesses sat close by, 
while the banners of the Knights of the Garter waved softly 
and solemnly overhead, and the choir, among their flickering 

62 



1881-1884] CANTERBURY AND ETON 

candles, sang as I had never heard choir sing before that 
was a revelation indeed. Too thrilling, too awe-inspiring, 
too august and remote from my own humble world to rouse 
any direct ambition, the experience nevertheless was decisive, 
in that it disclosed a mode of life so stately, as personified in 
gentle white-haired Dean Elliott, and so linked with English 
historic traditions, as to suggest an ideal of conduct which, 
though it could never be reached, might well be remem 
bered. The emotional and aesthetic appeal of such places 
and services may not always be very lasting, or have any 
foundation in strict logic, but is anyone the worse for it ? 

When the day came for my return to school it was snowing 
hard, so I was taken by my uncle to Sanger's Circus while 
inquiry was made as to the effect of the weather upon the 
railways. We emerged into a blizzard, staggered to the Arts 
Club in Hanover Square, to learn that, as the Canterbury 
trains might be snowed up (and they were), it would be best 
to return to Windsor. During tea, the members amused 
themselves by setting me passages from very cryptic French 
comic papers to construe, shouting with laughter at my 
translations, and sending me on my way the richer by five 
half-crowns. Muffled each in a rug, we tramped off to 
Paddington through snow now fully two feet deep, to find 
the Princess Christian and Miss Loch also waiting for the 
Windsor train. My awe soon vanished under the influence 
of their kindness and chocolates, but the storm caused so 
many stoppages that the journey took three and a half 
hours, and before the end of it the guard's long beard was 
frozen solid. Several days of ice-hockey at Datchet filled 
the interval before I returned to school, where the road was 
still lined with six-foot walls of snow. 

A distant event, with which I had no direct connexion, now 
set about altering my future. A boy, utterly unknown to me 
even by name, obtained a scholarship at Winchester from a 
private school at Cheltenham. At that private school five of 
my Dickson uncles had been taught; the two ladies who 
owned it had become family friends, and to rny uncle 

63 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1881-1884 

Edmund In particular they were greatly attached. Miss 
Bessie Hill, the younger sister, as the classical scholar of the 
establishment, was naturally proud of the success of her 
favourite pupil, Reginald Cripps. Her pleasure communi 
cated to my uncle Edmund the idea that I, too, might be 
capable of some such feat. In 1883 he devoted his Easter 
holiday to visiting Canterbury, and consulting the head 
master. He found Mr. Matheson most ready to help. My 
age, at the date of the examination, made Winchester Impos 
sible. It was settled, therefore., that I should compete at 
Eton. 

When the news was broken to me I was dismayed, almost 
desperate. I had no particular affection for Canterbury, but 
I was able to visualize the ridiculous and Inevitable contrast 
between my rough, ragged self and 'that beastly aristocratic 
hole' (as I termed it in a letter of protest), to which I was 
thus being propelled by my well-meaning but innocent Lanca 
shire relatives. I had already been a new boy seven times, 
but this (for I had not forgotten my experiences at Windsor) 
would be the direst plunge of all. One small consolation was 
provided. A friend, the gentle, humorous Paul Kirkby, 
would also go up for the examination, so that I might not 
have to face the unknown in complete solitude. 

I had never understood Mr, Matheson's Greek Grammar. 
To correct my too obvious muddling I was set to study 
Wordsworth's, in Latin, whereby confusion was doubly con 
founded. Yet Kirkby and I, being segregated from our 
fellows in the headmaster's study, spent more time in ragging 
than in work. Just at the end a nasty accident happened. 
I pretended to slay Kirkby with a blunt, broken pocket- 
knife, and to my horror the end went through his jacket into 
his shoulder. We adjourned to the infirmary, where the cut 
was plastered up. But some muscle or ligament had been 
touched, and Kirkby had to carry his arm in a sling to the 
examination at Eton^ where he was not elected, while I, 
much luckier than I deserved to be, took fourth place. The 
success saved me from official punishment, but the thought 



1881-1884] CANTERBURY AND ETON 

that I had probably damaged the prospects of a friend, 
clouded my last days at Canterbury. It needed all the 
distinction which Kirkby afterwards attained as a mathe 
matician, to rid me of that unpleasant feeling. 

Yet the secret terror with which I had regarded the 
prospect of transportation to Eton was sensibly relieved by 
that brief visit to the place; by the stately grandeur of 
Upper School where the papers were set, by the kindness of 
a quaint little bearded master, whom I was afterwards to 
know as Jimmy Joynes, by the cheerful midday meal with 
the other candidates at the centre table in College Hall, and 
by the company of boys who did not, after all, seem com 
pletely different from myself. Also, I stayed with my uncle 
Richard at Windsor; saw the Library and St. George's 
Chapel once more, discovered Dord's fascinating illus 
trations to the 'Contes Drolatiques* (the text was quite 
beyond me) ; and caught sundry small roach off the Eyot 
above Windsor Bridge with a monstrous pole of a rod, hired 
for me from that genial expert Mr. B. R. Bambridge. 
Altogether the new world promised to be rather a wonder 
ful place. 

On reaching Preston I found that my brother's health was 
causing anxiety. He had been greatly weakened by a 
dangerous illness in the preceding year ; and now, after six 
months as a day boy at the Preston Grammar School, was 
suffering from overwork. He, too, found it impossible to 
keep the pace which Osborne set. Though my mother, like 
one or two other parents, did his French exercises for him, a 
substitution which Osborne naturally recognized and grimly 
condoned, the strain was still too heavy. Remonstrance 
failing, Dr. James at Rossall was interviewed, and arranged 
to take my brother into his house at the beginning of 1884. 
Meanwhile we were both given a fortnight's holiday at 
Coniston. 

We had ascended Ingleborough, we had explored the fells 
at Finsthwaite and Scorton, but the Coniston Old Man pro 
vided far wilder and more varied scenery. For a week we 

65 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1881-1884 

ranged over all the crags and summits in the neighbourhood. 
Even fishing yielded to the new excitement, indeed our only 
two attempts at it were unlucky. Once we set out for Goat's 
Water, to be driven back by a terrific downpour which 
drenched our shivering bodies and, what was of almost equal 
importance, our luncheon sandwiches, in spite of so-called 
waterproofs. The silver trickle of a stream descending high 
above us from the black, cloudy hollow under Dow Crags 
remains the one visual memory of that dismal morning. 
Thirty years later, it was turned into a picture. On the 
other occasion we tested Levers Water, reported in our 
guide-book to contain fine trout. For us It contained 
nothing; not a movement stirred that inky tarn, and, as 
the clouds darkened over the great lonely amphitheatre in 
which we stood, the aspect of the water became more and 
more forbidding. What primeval monster might not have 
lived on there, like the undying fish of Bowscale, and be 
lurking for us? Seized with simultaneous panic, we fled 
headlong from the place. 

Ruskin, preserved from the vulgar gaze by the guardian 
ship of the Severns, was the local divinity : his likeness 
everywhere displayed in the little shops ; his shrine, Brant- 
wood, plainly visible across the lake from the Old Hall where 
our boat was housed. Towards it we rowed one Sunday 
afternoon. Copsewood came down to the stony beach; 
from the beach protruded a little stake to which a cord 
seemed to be attached. A night-line? That should be 
investigated. Rowing ashore, I landed to haul in the cord. 
Just as I had found it to be baited with a small discoloured 
trout, steps sounded from the woodland behind. Hastily 
throwing back bait and line, I pushed off the boat and 
clambered in ; but hardly were we well afloat before an old 
gentleman with a gray beard emerged from the wood, waving 
a stick and cursing us vigorously for trespassing. It was the 
Ruskin of the photographs, and we rowed away a little 
frightened by this denunciation from the great recluse. 

A short stay at Grasmere followed. Here the relics of a 

66 



1881-1884] CANTERBURY AND ETON 

dead Wordsworth, known to us only by guide-book quota 
tions, could not really compete with the recent memory of a 
live Ruskin, whom we had not read at all, but whom we 
had actually seen and heard. Yet the company in which 
we found ourselves at The Wyke was so attractive as to 
invest the simplest excursions with a glamour that lasted for 
some time after our return to harsh,, masculine realities at 
Preston. After a ridiculous effort to prepare my feeble frame 
for the coming ordeal with some ancestral and most unsuit 
able dumb-bells, the fatal day arrived when I journeyed 
in my mother's company to London and thence to Eton. 

When a top-hat and other indispensable articles of dress 
had been procured from W. V. Brown's, I was introduced 
to my tutor E. D. Stone. His venerable and benevolent 
aspect removed my worst fears ; the sight of my spacious 
stall in Chamber with its curtain and simple furniture re 
assured me further, so that when left to myself at last I was 
merely nervous, very nervous. To conceal it I armed myself 
with an assurance which I did not feel, and which led me 
during the next few days to some ludicrous performances. 
Certain of my new companions seemed almost odiously 
superior and well informed, having brothers or friends in 
the school. Others, if more polished and politic than I, 
proved not much wiser as to what might and might not be 
done, and our common ignorance became a bond of 
sympathy. 

c Eton in the Eighties ' and c Playing Fields, 5 by my friend 
Eric Parker, describe with such inimitable veracity the com 
pany and the environment in which we now found ourselves, 
that I need not discuss them at length. In a week we had 
learned the ritual of Chamber, our place in the scheme of 
things as the lowliest of recognized existences, how the whole 
duty of our young lives was to walk humbly in the presence 
of all our seniors, and to learn the Wall Game. The teach 
ing suffered from one grave defect, perhaps inevitable in the 
circumstances. All my Election had passed a high standard. 
Yet even the eldest, and I was nearly fifteen, were still fags 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1881-1884 

and new boys, quite unfitted in the eyes of authority for any 
place in the school corresponding to our classical attain 
ments. So in Lower Division, to which I and half-a- 
dozen or more of my fellows in Chamber were relegated, 
we found ourselves put back to text-books of the most 
elementary type, which called for little or no preparation. 
In this comfortable state we remained for nearly two years. 

And we started badly, in the Division of a gentle, fiery and 
distinguished scholar, where everybody ragged and rioted 
in a way which first astounded and then utterly corrupted 
our susceptible minds. Others, including of course that 
superb disciplinarian Frank Tarver, might keep us in check 
for the moment; but I quickly imitated the idleness and 
turbulence round me, to the marked displeasure of my tutor. 
A dignified senior, who had taught a whole generation of 
boys how to write finished elegiacs, had naturally little 
patience with the disturbance which a talkative and idle 
new-comer was continually creating in his pupil-room, and 
I soon got into his bad books. This was to prove unfortunate. 

Slackness and ragging might be possible in some places, 
but the football field was not one of them. In my innocence, 
I had imagined Eton to be soft and luxurious; I was 
speedily undeceived. There was nothing luxurious about 
Chamber Game in Jordan, under the critical eye of the 
Keepers. If your panting body failed for one moment to 
follow up, a kick on the backside recalled you to duty. Once, 
only once, this happened to me, and I turned furiously to 
avenge the fancied insult. But I had hardly clenched my 
fists when the mighty Jenkins, as he trotted forward, just 
touched me with his shoulder, and sent me spinning into 
the mud. 'Bill Holmes/ he remarked, as he passed on, 
'you must learn manners.' A memorable feature of these 
games in Jordan was their termination, when we trooped off 
to the willows by School Jump to retrieve our jackets and 
scarves, and to crowd round old Powell for a drink of the 
flat chilly beer which he served to us from a tin can with a 
long spout. It was rather nasty really, but like Powell him- 

68 



1881-1884] CANTERBURY AND ETON 

self, with his strange tall hat and velveteens, his gray elf- 
locks, his portly person, and still more portly bag of footballs, 
the beer was an institution, a sacred libation one might 
think, as one gray-trousered player after another tossed the 
dregs from his little pewter into the grass. 

The joys of the well-ordered kick-about in College Field 
were evident from the first. Even though we formed part 
of the lowliest and outermost of its concentric circles, we 
had the thrilling spectacle of a dozen or more footballs rising 
and falling and thudding about us, with the blazered heroes 
in the middle, and visitors like Ainger and Cornish and 
Edward Lyttelton, who would turn aside from their walks 
and join us, regardless of the damage to top-hats and coats 
which a muddy ball from a misguided boot was wont to 
cause. How surely and strongly and neatly they kicked, 
defying it would seem the passage of years. Most thrilling 
of all was the sight of a ball soaring so inevitably towards 
one's own station that there was a chance of a volley, and 
then, if the foot moved as it should, the pleasant thwack, the 
slight shock, and the ball sailing over the whole arena. 

Compared with this agreeable exercise, the Wall Game 
was a hard and exacting science. Great players came to 
watch our puny efforts, to impress the tradition of the Wall, 
to explain the precise duty of each separate member of a 
team, to encourage or reprove, as professional trainers might 
do, the youngsters who four or five years later would have 
to represent College on St. Andrew's Day. The theory of 
the game proved as fascinating as its practice was difficult. 
A single chance given to a behind might mean the loss of a 
match. At 'third,' where I was set to play, the peril was 
constant, but in calx I was usually allotted the delightful job 
of helping that all-important being, the furker. To extract, 
by delicate art and patient boot-work^ a football from the 
midst of a thicket of stout legs tightly clasped around and 
upon it, in deep mud and darkness, is a feat to be proud of. 
Other deeds may be more spectacular, but none give more 
complete satisfaction than this victory of two minds and 

69 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1881-1884 

bodies operating in unison over the massed opposition of a 
rival side. Was it not thus that we juniors once defeated the 
College team itself, playing 'out of their places' as the 
custom was, when George Marshall got a shy and threw a 
goal from it? That goal remains as distinctly in my memory 
as Mordaunt's famous goal of 1885. The team was so upset 
by their defeat that we had to play the match over again, 
and were swept out of effective existence. 

Football, of a sort, naturally found a place with the more 
mythical Eton amusements which were recorded wee-k after 
week in c News from the Schools ' by an enterprising boys' 
newspaper. To read just before- St. Andrew's Day that ' The 
site of "The Wall" has not yet been chosen, but it will 
probably be Barnes Pool Bridge wall, which has recently 
been widened for the purpose,' was hardly more surprising 
than the text supplied of the Eton School Song, with its 
references to day boys, 'the Slunch' and prisoner's base. 

* Oppidana 
Gens urbana 
Laudibus fulgebit, 
Gens diurna 
Sempiterna 
Floreat, florebit. 
And 

Slunna fluat, 
Semper ruat 
Capti fundamentum,* 

This agreeable nonsense, composed by certain light- 
hearted members of Sixth Form, and afterwards reprinted 
in that rarest of booklets 'Eton as She is Not/ led to more 
than one unexpected consequence. Being much richer in 
incident than the bald chronicles sent in by more veracious 
contributors to the boys' newspaper aforesaid, and far sur 
passing them in style, it finally encouraged the Editor of the 
paper to pay a visit to Eton. Hasty preparations were made 
to^wclcome him. A fictitious College List was printed con- 
taming the^ aliases and nicknames which had figured in the 
'news,' while we Lower boys spent two days in unravelling 

70 



1881-1884] CANTERBURY AND ETON 

scarves and making woollen tassels for caps; ' tassels' in 
the reports being the equivalent for colours. The Editor 
was suitably welcomed, entertained in Hall, and successfully 
brought through the ordeal of 'Absence ' to a football game 
in South Meadow, where the tasselled caps were seen in all 
their glory, and we yelled with mock enthusiasm for the 
rival teams of ' Field Mice' and Jolly Boys/ He left 
delighted ; we were relieved, and all seemed well. 

Then, quite suddenly, the contributions from Eton ceased. 
It was some years before I learned the reason. S., the 
merry and friendly 'conduct' [chaplain], who was privy to 
the whole business and thoroughly enjoyed it, happened to 
be lunching with a master well known for his subtle scholarly 
humour, and in all innocence told him the story. His host, 
to the narrator's dismay, exclaimed, "But it is calculated 
deceit/ and was for taking immediate punitive action. S. 
protested that anything of the sort would be a breach of 
confidence; but had to promise in the end that this Eton 
'news ' should stop forthwith. Shortly afterwards the paper 
itself ceased publication, an event which in our innocence 
we attributed to the hoaxing of the Editor. Yet my sub 
sequent experiences of journalism make me wonder whether 
that Editor was not pleasantly hoaxing us. The nonsense 
contributed by Eton sent up his weekly circulation by several 
hundreds. To inquire too scrupulously into the causes of 
such a profitable increase would have been foolish, and that 
Editor was anything but a fool. The card which he left with 
my co-fagmaster Sterry on the occasion of his visit bore 
the name of 'Mr. Alfred Harinsworth.' 

Ragging in school encouraged us to rag elsewhere, in an 
impartial way, so that most of us in Chamber had our 
peculiarities chastened and brought home to us. Only one 
super-logical spirit resented any sort of correction, arguing 
that if each unpleasing incident were sufficiently reported to 
the authorities, he was bound in the end to attain complete 
immunity. In vain did I represent (being myself hand 
ignarus mail) that a little casual ridicule or discomfort was 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1881-1884 

better than the permanent Isolation which his method would 
produce. I failed to convince him, and soon found myself 
writing out a Georgic, with a company of amateur architects 
who had built a spire with his furniture. Other incidents 
followed in which I had no part, but then Fate turned on me 
with a vengeance. 

A race along the corridor of the mathematical schools, a 
harmless scrimmage at the end, and the customary outcry of 
the logician, brought Johnny Lock on to the scene, and I was 
complained of for fighting in school. My tutor, already 
vexed by my Idleness In pupil-room, declined to Intervene ; 
the Master in College was sympathetic but could not act if 
my tutor would not. So, with Bruce and St. Glair Erskine as 
'holders down/ I came to the Head and the block. 'Any 
excuse? ' asked the Head, in accordance with the ancient 
formula. 'Yes, Sir/ said I, prepared with witnesses to my 
innocence. "Well/ replied Dr. Hornby, with his wonted 
calm, 'I have no time to hear it now'; so swished I was 
forthwith. 

In the following summer (1884) I entered for the school 
Geology Prize, at the cost of some ridicule for my impudence. 
But, compared with the standard set two years before by my 
uncle Edmund, the papers were absurdly easy. A little 
later I was doing Trials in School Library when my good 
friend Badger Hale burst upon me, beaming as only he could 
beam. ' You've got it, my boy. You've got It!' Then 
Boggy Drew met me in the street, and congratulated me 
upon being a long way ahead of everyone else. Finally the 
Head sent for me to Chambers, and told me that the prize 
on this occasion would be divided between myself and a 
member of Sixth Form. 'But, Sir/ said I, 'Mr. Drew told 
me that I was easily first.' 'You are a little boy of bad 
character/ replied Dr. Hornby, 'and if you say any more I 
shall take away the prize altogether.' However, my trun 
cated award just sufficed to buy me an edition of Gibbon at 
Ingalton Drake's, the most sensible prize which I ever chose. 

Even then I had not done with my logical neighbour. I 

72 





h 

H 
< 



1 





w 



J 




1881-1884] CANTERBURY AND ETON 

kept well out of his way, and had risen to relative seniority, 
when accident again brought me to the brink of disaster. A 
musical contemporary was practising singing in his room, a 
practice distasteful to my friend Arthur Glutton-Brock. He 
suggested that we should quietly erect a pile of baths against 
the door, and then call the singer out to be overwhelmed, 
like the bad lady. We borrowed accordingly all the baths 
set out against the passage wall, and had made our pile when 
the logician happened to come upstairs. Seeing that Ms 
bath was missing from the row, he went off promptly to 
report its loss to the Master in College. 

Of course we owned up at once when inquiry followed, 
but I was not prepared for the serious tone which Broad- 
bent took about our innocent fun, and ventured to say so. 
'You do not,' said he, 'appear to realize the gravity of your 
position. If I report the matter to the Headmaster, as 
perhaps I ought to do, you will have to leave. X is the one 

certain winner of the Medal whom Eton has had for 

years, and the Headmaster decided long ago that he was to 
be kept here at any cost, while, at the first opportunity, an 
example could be made of you, as a troublesome boy who 
is not likely er to reflect any particular credit upon the 
school/ 

So the gulf of expulsion yawned at my feet. I could only 
assure Broadbent earnestly that what had happened was 
pure accident, and that, if it could be overlooked, I would 
give my word to keep absolutely out of the danger zone in 
future, expressing myself so forcibly that he interrupted 
with 'Er Go away!' Perhaps he merely intended to 
frighten me ; but thanks to his frankness and plain speaking 
I became rather less of an unthinking ass than I had previ 
ously been. His words, anyhow, swept away in an instant the 
whole fanciful universe in which I had hitherto lived. I had 
accepted the verdicts of my elders, however unfair they might 
seem, as embodying the perfect righteousness which they 
preached to us, and as deviating from that lofty ideal only 
through imperfect information. It was now evident that 

73 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1881-1884 

Policy, not Justice, was the true arbiter of our destinies, and 
expediency would have to be substituted henceforth for 
common Christian ethics. 

A little self-control and restraint of manner had already 
been taught me by our Duce, Merry wood. His eagle eye 
overlooked no follies, foibles or shortcomings; his biting 
satire gained him obsequious allegiance, and would some 
times raise a laugh even from the victim under the lash. As 
agile in body as in mind, he was a master of those neat 
acrobatics which invest each action, whether on the football 
field or elsewhere, with a certain humorous grace ; he re 
inforced this agility by a physical strength which made him 
a formidable opponent, even when alone. But he seldom 
acted alone, having always at his disposal anyone to whom 
he chose to beckon; -henchmen on whose obedience he 
could count, since any hesitation involved prompt loss of 
favour and certain future ridicule. After a time almost 
everyone in our Election had been thus elevated, used and 
degraded in turn, and though a few might privately resent 
humiliation, none ventured to challenge a supremacy so 
natural and so complete. He was a man : the rest of us mere 
schoolboys. 

My loud voice, assurance and untidiness made me a per 
petual mark for these barbed arrows, until, in desperation, I 
had once more to make resolutions for self-defence. Not 
being strong enough to face the opposing force, I fashioned a 
rude pair of Indian clubs on the lathe at Preston, and dis 
covered swinging them to be not only an exhilarating exer 
cise, but one which caused the arms and shoulders to swell 
quite visibly. Superstition fortified still further. In a care 
less moment the dictator had let slip the words, *I reign 
alone, never to be cast down,' a challenge which the gods, 
if the classic examples held good, could not overlook. 

Sure enough, when I came back ready for battle in 
January 1885, the Fates at once took a hand in the business. 
On the very first morning of the Half the dictator openly 
degraded the clever Sidney, presenting me thereby with an 

74 



1881-1884] CANTERBURY AND ETON 

ally and the wisest of counsellors. Yet even with the over 
whelming force of liberators which Sidney collected, our 
campaign to make the place safe for mediocrity lasted a full 
six months. Indian-club practice did not save me from some 
damage at the first encounter, but the public execution, 
with grimly dramatic circumstance, of the dictator's two 
chief adherents proved to be the turning-point. The revolt 
then settled down into a silent, deadly social war, waged in 
and out of school with so much propriety, on the part of the 
two protagonists, that the end was mutual respect. Both have 
since attained the distinction which their characters then 
foreshadowed, and the lessons in behaviour received from 
these two friends during the conflict were, I believe, more 
important than anything else I was taught during my first 
two years at Eton. Considering the length and fierceness of 
the struggle, the casualties were ludicrous the two public 
executions, one black eye, one bloody nose (mine), and one 
crumpled top-hat. 



75 



CHAPTER V 

ETON AND RXJSKIN 

(1885-1887) 

Discovery of 'Modern Painters'; attempts at drawing; the 
Library at Windsor Castle; Glutton-Brock as critic and poet; 
Lionel Headlam ; fishing with Eric Parker ; Edmond Warre ; 
curiosity and religion; scholarship-hunting at Hertford, 
Christ's and Brasenose ; my last day at Eton. 

THE summer of 1885, the end of my second year at Eton, 
found me indolent, slipshod and contented. A little more 
money would have been welcome, since the expenses of a 
brother at Rossall compelled my allowance to be smaller 
than that of anyone else. Yet this did not worry me much ; 
I had to set little store by appearances. Certain physical 
defects were more annoying. I thoroughly enjoyed football 
and cricket, but could develop no special aptitude for either. 
I could neither run nor jump. Hard experience had made 
me ready with my fists ; but there was now no need to use 
them. The wild winds which had raged round my first year 
in College were hushed ; the angry deeps of rny Election had 
subsided into friendly somnolence. Each of us could go his 
own way undisturbed. 

Drifting evasively through the appointed channels of 
Greek, Latin and Higher Mathematics, without observation 
or understanding, I earned from E. D. Stone, Johnny Cole, 
Luxmoore and Everard the reputation of being quick, idle, 
talkative and rather silly. The science masters, 'Badger' 
Hale, Madan and T. C. Porter, were more sympathetic. 
Although my precocious affection for geology had not out 
lived early discouragement, there did survive from it a vague 
apprehension of scientific principle^ of cause and effect, 
which led me (often Unwisely) to apply the experimental 



1885-1887] ETON AND RUSKIN 

method to cricket, and even to the sacred Wall Game. The 
'googly J and "leg-theory ' were familiar secrets : I could still 
write an essay on e Cool-runners ' or upon ' The Art of 
Furking.' To science also, less directly, may be ascribed an 
Interest in the construction of ironclads, and in the didactics 
of Samuel Smiles. In literature I had not emerged from 
the Tennyson stage. My ignorance of music, and the 
wonders of my singing in chapel, were as notorious as the 
idiotic profiles and scribbles with which I defaced my books 
and papers. The ordinary schoolboy ambitions could not 
excite one who was neither an athlete nor a scholar ; besides, 
life being now so comfortable, it was simplest to take things 
as they came, and drift with the stream- 
One afternoon, having nothing particular to do, I drifted 
into School Library. The old library in Weston's Yard, 
with its globes, its cast of The Gladiator, its copy of the 
Apollo Belvedere, its ample fireplace, and Bircher its patient, 
friendly custodian, had always been a pleasant and handy 
refuge, especially in winter, when the fire and the gas com 
bined to manufacture a delicious frowst. The frowst indeed 
was apt to be so overpowering in the gallery of the place, 
that we seldom ventured there in dark weather. But it was 
now summer, and it occurred to me to investigate this rarely 
visited upper floor. Climbing the iron corkscrew, I went 
along all one side of the building without finding a single 
book worth looking at. By the far corner, however, a red 
cover and a promising title, Jomini's 'Art of War,' challenged 
attention; but the contents proved to be dreary reading. 
As I replaced the book, my eye was attracted to a neigh 
bouring title, ' Modern Painters ' by John Ruskin. I remem 
bered Ruskin; he had cursed us at Coniston two years 
before. To see what sort of stuff he wrote, I took out a 
volume and settled down with it in the window-seat. 
Almost immediately I found myself captivated by his powers 
of description and invective. But five fat volumes ! What 
were the others like? The beauty of the illustrations in 
vols. 3 to 5, and their puzzling titles, excited still further 

77 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1885-1887 

curiosity. There was nothing for It but to go through the 
whole book and see what the man meant. 

Then, as now, I found much of the philosophy incom 
prehensible, and skipped it. But the descriptive passages 
appealed to my natural bent for the solemn and the 
grandiloquent. The geology was sympathetic; the notes 
on the structure of trees and clouds wholly novel. I cannot 
remember at what point I was struck with the sudden 
splendour of a thought : * If no one except Turner has ever 
painted landscape as yet, then there's room for you* But 
the thought did come, and I proceeded at once to translate 
it into action. The simple paints and paper supplied for 
drawing maps gave me materials; but what about a sub 
ject? I could think of nothing whatever. Still, there was a 
woodcut of 'The Vale of Tempe ' in 'The Student's Greece/ 
so, taking that beauty-spot for a model, I produced, with 
infinite labour, a crude little water-colour. I hardly ex 
pected to be able to paint all at once, but it was evident, 
even to my own partial eye, that I could not even draw. 
During the holidays I discovered Ruskin's 'Elements of 
Drawing ' in the Preston Free Library, and set myself to 
learn on his principles, using Tenniel's illustrations to 'Alice ' 
for copies, and presenting the results to my family for use 
as menu-cards. Yet with all my efforts I could never even 
approach the easy grace of my school-fellow Leonard 
Cotterill, whose every touch was clean and faultless. Indeed 
the first evidence that I had made some sort of progress 
was furnished quite unintentionally by Michael Furse, who 
stuck up one of my Du Maurier copies in his room, under 
the impression that he had found a genuine Cotterill. 

'Modern Painters,' in due course, was succeeded by 'The 
Seven Lamps of Architecture/ 'The Stones of Venice/ and 
by the revealing of my new enthusiasm to others. First 
came my uncle Richard in the Library at Windsor. There, 
on Sundays, he would bring me out prints by Diirer, draw 
ings by Raphael, Holbein and Leonardo (the finest surely 
of them all?), the famous Windsor miniatures, and finally 

78 



1885-1887] ETON AND RUSKIN 

the collection of Whistler which he was forming for the 
Queen. For two years, nearly every Sunday afternoon was 
spent among these masterpieces, in learning the difference 
between good workmanship and bad. Incidentally, the 
splendours of the Castle, its magnitude, the profound rever 
ence accorded to its mistress, and a smile from the Queen 
herself as I happened to meet her driving down Keate's 
Lane in her little pony-carriage, all served to make me more 
than ever a loyal little Conservative. 

Next came Arthur Glutton-Brock. That independent 
enthusiast, already on the point of passing from Shelley's 
fountains of light and music to Swinburne's resounding 
ocean, was quick to welcome any interest outside the school 
routine. 'Don't you think College is rather a rotten place? ' 
I remember him asking me. 'It's so beastly respectable.' 
There was just a grain of truth in the criticism. Distin 
guished from the rest of the school by their gowns and their 
separate games, as much as by any communal superiority 
in learning, or inferiority of private means, the King's 
Scholars, togati or 'Tugs,' when once the antics of childhood 
were done with, cultivated habits of self-restraint which dis 
couraged any public show of originality in opinion or bear 
ing. An Oppidan (and to this tolerance Eton owes many of 
its famous names) might be eccentric in his ways and 
appearance, or extravagant in his views, just as his fancy 
inclined. The Colleger, for the reputation of College, ought 
to be neither. Humour he might cultivate, within reason, 
but ambition was restricted to the recognized channels 
games and classical scholarship. Any other outpouring of 
personality was suspect as dubious 'form,' and could be 
indulged only in strict privacy. So Brock and I were drawn 
together by our respective disreputable pleasures. He intro 
duced me to Shelley, and was introduced in turn to Ruskin. 

Brock's rugged face would light up, his left arm would saw 
the air to emphasize the lilt of the verse, as he declaimed his 
favourite passages from "Hellas/ 'Adonais/ or Swinburne's 
'Poems and Ballads.' Nor was he content with passive 

79 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1885-1887 

appreciation. When 'England and her Colonies 5 was set as 
the theme for the English Verse prize in 1886, most of us 
found it uncommonly tough material for poetry. To Brock, 
however, it brought the chance of uniting two of his pet 
admirations. Disraeli's 'Empire and Liberty' motto was 
expanded into a swift-running lyric in the manner of 
Shelley, and with so much vigour that it not only won the 
prize for him hors concours, but lingered for a long time in 
the memory of at least one of his hearers. When the 
4 Eton Fortnightly ' was launched under his auspices, in Feb 
ruary 1887, it was to Brock's articles and poems that we 
turned first. The paper is not, perhaps, so wonderful as we 
then thought it, yet Brock is not the only one of the con 
tributors who has since made his mark in the world, and 
can look back without shame upon his infantile essays in 
literature. Fortunately my own efforts were all rejected. 
A series of articles on Eton Poets was Brock's chief work 
in prose, a series foreshadowing the critical gifts which 
became so notable in after-life. At the time, judging from 
sundry protests, the criticisms would appear to have been 
above the heads of his school audience. Much of the work 
was evidently done in haste, as some odd misquotations 
prove, but there can be no question about the writer's 
sincerity and independence. Even his favourites are ruth 
lessly weighed in the balance. He describes, for example, 
Swinburne's c Poems and Ballads' as * dangerous reading, 
much study of them is like opium-eating . , . giving a 
distaste for all other poetry,' and confesses that he himself 
has suffered thereby. Yet this indulgence in Swinburne was 
responsible for one poem, 'Achilles in Hades' (June soth 
1887), which, making every allowance for its derivative 
origin, is true poetry. Achilles tells Odysseus that in the 
sunless waste of the lower world 

' No song of birds there is, and no man hears 
The thunder of the seas. 
But thou hast heard it, yet thy ears are ringing 
With laughter shaken from the windy deep ; 
80 



1885-1887] ETON AND RUSKIN 

Small laughter have we in the land of sleep, 
Wherefore, most welcome art thou, comrade, bringing 
Long-lost remembrance with thy wave-born hands ; 
Almost I hear the ripple on shingly sands 
Of the spent wave, the sound of rock-pent streams 
Sucked back I hear, and now the free birds play 
Fla.shing from crest to crest; now for one day 
I know the constant moan, the sudden gleams 
Of waters far away.* 

In Brock's poetic work this Swinburnian period stands mid 
way between his Shelley-like prize poem and the sonnet- 
sequence written in the late 'nineties, when he was under 
going a strong emotional experience, and had come to 
appreciate Shakespeare. Going up in the autumn of 1 887 
to New College, where the Wykehamist poet Lionel Johnson 
was already famous. Brock to my secret chagrin remained 
silent, and nearly twenty years were to pass before the 
talent he had first displayed in the 'Eton Fortnightly' 
became known all the world over through his contributions 
to the 'Times.' 

William Morris, red beard, red tie 'and broad pea-jacket, 
came to lecture, provoking (deliberately, I'm told) gentle 
hisses by his praise of Socialism. F. W. H. Myers, in the 
course of a paper on c Nelson,' read Campbell's c Copen 
hagen' with memorable beauty. Dr. Hornby's silver 
eloquence was equal to both occasions. Most striking of 
all was Brandram's rendering of e Much Ado.' No stage 
performance I have seen, from the Lyceum upward, held 
the audience spell-bound as did this one old gentleman, 
with his exquisitely varied mimicry, his humour and his 
power. 

My messmate and chief confidant at this period was Lionel 
Headlam, the youngest of a family of famous scholars. His 
roguish humour had caused me no little annoyance in early 
days, but, coupled with his physical frailty, it utterly dis 
armed the hand of vengeance when the time for punishment 
arrived. With just a touch of the minx, to give savour to 
Ms charm and good sense, he quickly became the dictator 

81 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1885-1887 

of our joint menage^ and the father-confessor to whom I 
carried my troubles and peccadilloes as meekly as my spare 
shillings. With Francis Fremantle and F. L. Bland (the 
politician and the financier) as successive fags, our break 
fasts and teas, though sternly economic, made refreshing 
interludes in the daily round. Headlam's delicacy did 
not prevent him from getting a place quite early in the 
College Wall Eleven, but it increased as time went on, and 
to the sorrow of all who knew him, he died shortly after 
leaving Oxford. 

Another friendship began with fishing. My holiday ex 
periences among the carp, roach and eels of Lancashire 
made it impossible from the outset to overlook the river of 
the Playing Fields. It might be no historic trout-stream 
like that which educates the angling Wykehamist, yet the 
sluggish waters watched by that queer veteran Sergeant 
Leahy, the swifter stream that poured thence right down 
to the Old Oak, and the dark pike-haunted purlieus of 
Fellow's Pond were an irresistible lure, especially when 
B. R. Bambridge, the tackle-maker on Windsor Bridge, 
expert and optimist, had enlarged upon their possibilities. 
Eton was too tolerant to suppress fishermen. It merely 
classed them with eccentrics, who were best left to their 
own unaccountable pleasures. No Collegers apparently 
indulged in so dubious a sport. But in Eric Parker I found 
a fellow-enthusiast, in whose company it was easy to make a 
beginning when we were not needed for games. 

Parker naturally caught most. The Editor of the ' Field ' 
has proved by his writings that he has an exceptional eye 
for fisheS, as for birds and beasts. He had also the more 
daring spirit. It was with him that I crossed, in all inno 
cence, the forbidden railway bridge to catch, coram omnibus, 
in a scug cap, fat roach upon the flooded meadows right 
opposite the Playing Fields. I was with him in his disconcert 
ing effort to catch pike with goldfish. But Parker soon 
attained to the dignity of the Shooting Eight, and then I 
had to angle alone. But in my last year accident or example 

82 



1885-1887] ETON AND RUSKIN 

brought quite a little group of reputable seniors to the 
waterside, and fishing ceased for the time to be the plebeian 
business it had been in the days when we bargained with 
Sergeant Leahy for rods (such rods !) and bait at threepence 
an hour. I remember vividly how Vincent Yorke, returning 
one evening from Middle Club, waded into the swift stream 
in pads and wicket-keeping gloves, to lift out a roach of 
about a pound in weight which I had hooked on a single 
hair and could not bring to bank. Getting into College, 
rather late, my triumph was dashed by my house-master's 
greeting. 'What? Fishing!! You are too old for such 
filthy and childish pursuits.' And that, no doubt, was the 
general opinion. 

Had we been able to adorn our disregard of convention 
by the magic plea of Thames Trout we might have been 
forgiven. But that noble quarry even then had become 
almost a legend, and only once did I come across a speci 
men of the breed. Walking through the Playing Fields one 
evening, I was attracted to the bank of Fellow's Eyot by the 
sight of bending rod in the hands of a Lower boy. He had 
hooked a Thames Trout with a worm, and was so much at a 
loss what to do, that he handed over his little 8-foot split-cane 
to me. Yet when the disparity between its bulk, some two 
pounds, and the tiny rod had lost its novelty, the fish pro 
vided no single thrill, proving to be a lumpish, unenter 
prising beast, who was got to the bank in two minutes. I 
believe that, like a prig, having an idea that three pounds 
was the Thames limit of size, I insisted upon his return to 
the water. His muddy brown colour suggested that he 
would anyhow have been uneatable. 

These experiences came only as occasional intervals in the 
routine of football and cricket. To the Wall Game we were 
dedicated; the Field Game was a strenuous duty; my 
ambitions in both were checked and ended by two bouts of 
water-on-the-knee. Cricket was generally a more casual 
relaxation. But in 1 885-6, under the rule of H. J. Mordaunt, 
backsliding was impossible. We were proud 0f him, for he 

83 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1885-1887 

was Captain of the Eleven. But when he deigned to appear 
in College Game, It was rather a paralysing honour to have 
to try to play the bowling which had beaten Winchester, 
and to send down one's feeble off-breaks to one who was soon 
to make a century in the c Varsity ' Match. Like the Homeric 
Achilles he did not suffer gladly, but he could be generous 
too. I have seen him pull up In the middle of the pitch, 
when compiling a century, to call 'Well fielded! 3 to a 
tremulous mid-on, who from sheer fear of funking had 
managed to stop a terrific smack. He possessed, of course, 
the infernally straight eye of the Prooslan Bates. After 
caning me once for some trivial horse-play, he claimed that 
each of the statutory seven strokes had hit the same check 
on my trousers, a claim which I quite Independently veri 
fied. Luckily I was pretty tough, and there is a way of 
folding even a thin white shirt into a passable buffer. 

Mordaunt was the single Colleger of the time who played 
for the School in the Field. At the Wall his record was 
unique. The famous goal which we saw him throw on 
St. Andrew's Day 1885 was only one of many notable per 
formances ; indeed a certain left foot volley In the first half 
of that match, with the ball slithering down the brickwork, 
had already almost exhausted our faculty of admiration. 
That superb kick remains as firmly fixed on the retina of 
memory as Mordaunt's subsequent jump from the bully in 
Good Calx, and the overhand bowling action with which 
he sent the ball thudding against the blue door. His 
intellectual gifts, in one direction at least, were no less 
remarkable. Marindin, through whose hands so many of 
the best Eton scholars had passed, once told me that 
Mordaunt's Greek Iambics were the best he had ever known 
a schoolboy to write. 

But the dominating figure of my time at Etoxi was Edmond 
Warre. Till the beginning of my last year at school I had 
played games, and fished, and pottered away at drawing and 
desultory reading, without any thought for the future, or any 
present distinction, since the twice-twisted knee robbed me 

84 



1885-1887] ETON AND RUSKIN 

of the chance of playing on St. Andrew's Day. But the great 
and genial Warre did not overlook the humblest members of 
his Division. He put us at ease by his dinner-parties, he 
laughed and jested with us in school, till we came quickly to 
look upon him as one whose friendship and high ideals were 
alike irresistible. His mighty figure in itself was impressive 
in his doctor's gown ; when he mounted a horse as Colonel 
of the Volunteers, it was magnificent. Prince Alexander of 
Bulgaria, fresh from the victory of Slivitzna, came over from 
Windsor to inspect the Eton Corps,, watched by the pretty 
Princess May of Teck (our present Queen). Alexander, a 
big, handsome, bearded man, looked every inch the hero that 
he then was ; yet Warre, when he put the Corps through its 
evolutions, fully held his own as one no less accustomed to 
high command. 'Sir,' said the Prince, 'you have the voice 
of a Field-Marshal.' 

Warre's native military talent was still more conspicuously 
exhibited in the planning and execution of the torchlight 
procession to Windsor Castle at the 1887 Jubilee. Rumour 
had it that the great idea of this torchlight display, and of its 
musical accompaniment, was revealed to him in a dream. 
The elaborate manoeuvres which he invented involved the 
drilling of the whole school for three weeks. Not all the boys, 
nor all the masters who led them, had any experience of 
military discipline, so that our training had its comic aspect. 
But Warre's enthusiasm carried the thing through, and 'on 
the night' our evolutions in and by the Quadrangle at 
Windsor went off without a hitch. Then, like a triumphant 
army, we marched back in fours along the High Street, 
whistling 'John Peel,' while the long serpent of torches 
flared and guttered and reeked of paraffin. Among the 
guests at the Castle was the Kaiser, who asked, I was told, 
one of his neighbours how long the school had been drilling. 
When the answer 'Three weeks ' was given, he was at first 
incredulous. Then the words 'It would take us six months * 
slipped out, and were remembered. 

When I reached the Head's Division, that discerning man 

85 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1885-1887 

soon saw that my scholarship was not up to the current Eton 
standard, and explained frankly that it was useless for me 
to try for one of the scholarships at King's. With luck, my 
general information might pull me through at Oxford, where 
incapacity to write such things as Greek Prose might not be 
immediately fatal. So, very late in the day, I made frantic 
efforts to run through Homer and Virgil, my industry being 
stimulated by gratitude to Warre, unpleasant speculation as 
to my future if I failed, and by a severe fright. 

On the first evening of the Winter Half, the irrepressible 
Battersby invited me to his room and shut the door. He had 
just been to Paris with his people, and had brought back 
some souvenirs odd numbers of 'La Vie Parisienne' with 
cartoons by "Mars, 9 startling enough to the innocent eye, 
but mild compared with a dozen very French photographs. 
He had just taken these from his box and handed them to 
me, when the door opened and in walked our house-master. 
The box lid snapped down safely enough on the illustrated 
paper, but I had barely time to slip those infernal photo 
graphs under my coat, where they made a shifting bundle, 
nearly an inch thick. An uneasy, interminable conversation 
followed. My arm was fixed to niy side, to keep the slippery 
things from falling and bringing us both to perdition : the 
visitor felt there was something wrong, but couldn't tell 
what. When at last I ventured to make a break for my own 
room, it involved walking under his eye all down the 
passage, with my burden slithering lower and lower. But 
my luck held. Nothing actually fell, and the fright cured me 
once for all of any such curiosity. 

Most of us, as a matter of fact, without being obtrusively 
pious, and allowing for the natural exuberances of adoles 
cence, had decent ideals of conduct. We might succumb at 
times, as the young will do, to bursts of devotional enthusi 
asm, yet we kept them to ourselves, noting, perhaps, that 
they were generally followed by unsatisfactory reactions, so 
that it was really safer not to take things too seriously. My 
people had always hoped that I might follow in my father's 

86 



1885-1887] ETON AND RUSKIN 

footsteps by taking orders. Though I had myself no sort of 
calling to that way of life, it was impossible to overlook 
altogether the doctrinal side of religion. Divinity formed a 
part, quite a considerable part, of our school-work, and in 
this, contrary to what may be the general impression, the 
Etonians of my time were, I fancy, at least as well grounded 
as the boys from any other public school. 

Divinity, too, figured largely in the competition for the 
Newcastle Scholarship, and all my contemporaries who 
wished for distinction had to take it seriously. I tried like 
the rest, but found most of it utterly dull. Among the set 
books, however, for the 1886-7 examination was Lightfoofs 
'Galatians,' and this proved unexpectedly fascinating. I 
had hitherto taken the Bible for granted, without any 
thought of its relation to history proper, so that it was 
illuminating to see, for the first time, how Christianity had 
developed from a Judaistic sect into a world-wide religion. 
Gradually and inevitably followed recognition of the man 
to whom the change was due : the zealous Pharisee, with 
whose acceptance of a religious revival among the peasants 
of a remote province originates the whole ethical pretext, if 
not the actual fabric, of our Western civilization. The 
Christians might have remained as local and obscure as the 
Ebionites, if a certain Saul, when he fell on the Damascus 
road, had happened to break his neck. 

The duty of keeping order in College was generally simple 
enough ; and excellent training. Crimes and punishments 
were usually debated at Sixth Form supper, so that hasty 
verdicts could be modified, if necessary, before final judg 
ment was pronounced. Being less distinguished athletically 
than a group below us, we had to hold the reins of discipline 
discreetly. Since I occupied the room next to Chamber, it 
was my special function to keep the fifteen Lower-boy 
occupants in order. For this a reputation for ferocity was 
quite enough. In twelve months I caned nobody, and had 
only to set two hundred 'lines.' Reasonable licence we 
allowed. Once I was really startled by finding a very small 

8? 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1885-1887 

Colleger In my room, kneeling at my arm-chair, apparently 
absorbed in devotion. Investigation proved him to be a 
life-like fiction, made out of my top-hat, my gown, and a 
pair of boots, with my Liddell and Scott for a body, while 
the impudent Frankenstein was my own fag. Even a dis 
tinguished political career has not made him much more 
respectful. Only once was I faced with an emergency, when 
summoned in haste to stop a considerable uproar in Lower 
Passage. At the harsh sound of my voice the roysterers fled. 
Only the very biggest of them all remained to dance like a 
Jabberwock round me. The good Bishop must forgive me ; 
there was a resemblance. To tell the giant, and he was an 
eminent giant even then, that he should be caned on the 
spot if he didn't go to his room, needed all the prestige of 
Sixth Form, and a little of the bruiser's desperate fatalism. 
Luckily for me, he went. 

In the winter of 1886 the business of scholarship-hunting 
began with an attempt at Hertford, where the scholarships 
were more valuable than elsewhere at Oxford. It was bitter 
weather, but the loan of a fur-lined coat and sound boots, 
from my messmate Headlam, enabled me to face the chill 
airs and stone floor of the Divinity Schools, and to get as far 
as the final dozen before being rejected. Staying at 'The 
King's Arms,' my temporary abode, was a candidate from 
Norwich, with whom I struck up an acquaintance. Though 
no finished scholar, he had a determination to succeed which 
made me certain that I should hear of him again. Sure 
enough, when I next met him he was Sir Ernest Wild, the 
Recorder of London. 

My great-uncle Charles Swainson, who had been a splen 
did friend to my father and mother, was at this time Master 
of Christ's ; so it seemed good, after my failure at Oxford, 
that I should give Cambridge a chance. My private adviser 
was the Rev. H. Henn, then a Preston curate and afterwards 
Bishop of Burnley. A Trinity Hall man, he had a fierce 
contempt for Oxford and all its works, maintaining that 
Harper, the Principal of Jesus, was the one person who 

88 



1885-1887] ETON AND RUSKIN 

propped the pillars of that rotten University. But about 
Christ's he was dubious : the College was poor and could not 
afford to give a scholarship, except to a certain First in the 
Tripos. The event proved him to be right. The papers set 
were the stiffest I have ever seen; and I found among my 
fellow-competitors one really first-rate scholar. To him they 
offered an Exhibition of 30 a year ; my place was twelfth 
out of fourteen. Cambridge, as Warre had already pointed 
out, was clearly not the University for me. 

Being now faced with total failure, it was necessary to plod 
on blindly at books during the Easter Half, economizing the 
leisure usually spent in football by going out to throw the 
hammer for half-an-hour every day. Hammer-throwing is 
one of the dullest events to watch from afar on a sports- 
ground : as an exercise it is quite the reverse. The ponderous 
metal responds so perfectly to each nicety of rhythm and 
swing, that the thrower seems to wield a power much greater 
than his own, a sensation particularly gratifying to those of 
indifferent physique, especially if the throw be made, in the 
mighty CotterilPs fashion, with a single turn of the body. The 
sight of a burly person being whirled round time after time, like 
a teetotum, is rarely impressive, and may be unprofitable as 
well as undignified if the ground happens to be slippery. 

Looking back at those many weary hours spent with Legg, 
a friend and fellow-sufferer, over text and lexicon, I feel we 
were unlucky in living before the right use of translations was 
encouraged. No doubt our drudgery provided us with a 
vocabulary, but it did not teach us to catch the finer points 
of the authors with whom we wrestled. Had good transla 
tions been available, and permitted to those who were past 
the stage of Dr. Giles's 'Key to the Classics,' our reading 
would not only have been more extensive, but it would have 
been far more accurate and intelligent. I had not inherited 
my grandfather's gifts as a linguist. The acquisition of any 
alien tongue was always an immense mechanical labour, and 
the best intentions were apt to die away in distaste or 
drowsiness. 

89 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1885-1887 

The last chance for a scholarship, and therewith for the 
supposed advantages of a University education, came in the 
summer of 1887 ; but I was at a loss to choose between the 
members of the big group of Colleges University, Exeter, 
Oriel, Brasenose and Christ Church which were proffering 
their wares. The question was settled by a chance remark 
of my sporting mentor, the Rev. John Wilson Pedder, as 
notable for his genial good sense as for his proficiency with 
rod and gun. 'Go up to Brasenose/ said he, 'and fish the 
Windrush. You'll never see anything like it again.' On 
scrutinizing the Brasenose offer, it appeared that certain 
Exhibitions were reserved primarily for persons of small 
private means, who had been born in Lancashire. These 
heaven-sent conditions I could fulfil so down went my name 
for this humble contest. 

The sight of Oxford in the summer added further encour 
agement. Even the journey thither was embroidered by the 
company of a Town Council, fresh, very fresh, from a 
Jubilee lunch at Windsor Castle, and full also of anecdotes 
unmunicipal and unrepeatable. At Oxford there was a fair 
on Port Meadow, which bold spirits could attend in the 
evening ; there was a merry company at meals in the College 
Hall; there were one or two kindly dons with whom we 
could talk at ease from arm-chairs in the front Quad. 
Among the candidates was a Wykehamist, Doughty, who 
many years later met fame and death at Gallipoli. Now he 
delighted me with his mischievous eye like a poacher's, and 
his tales of the Itchen trout. This friendly atmosphere, a 
marked contrast to the chilly isolation of Cambridge, was 
not confined to Brasenose. It invaded and enlivened even 
the examination itself. 

The papers set before us in Christ Church Hall rexcept 
for a quite fiendish opening to the lines set for Iambics 
appeared like so many genial invitations to the intelligence, 
a welcome relief from the heart-breaking grammatical gym 
nastics on which pedants depend for the finding of talents 
like their own. Thus encouraged to show one's mettle, it 

9 



1885-1887] ETON AND RUSKIN 

was possible to scribble away at ease, to risk a short nap to 
refresh the mind, and then, in the last few minutes, to run 
through one's MS. with a fresh eye, and correct the more 
obvious blunders. Among my fellows, this habit of openly 
dozing got me the credit of being a confirmed idler. But it 
proved effective, for a telegram came to me at Eton shortly 
afterwards : c Elected second scholarship Brasenose congratu 
lations Bussell.' Doctor Bussell told me afterwards that, on 
my papers, I was second in the entire group of 120 candi 
dates ; he could not understand why I had put my name 
down only for a minor Exhibition. A little later, when he 
had seen the ordinary standard of my work, he wondered 
that I should have been elected at all. 

Eton, at Easter, had placed me more justly as nineteenth 
in the examination for .the Newcastle Scholarship. Accident 
now, though it could not redeem my intellectual credit, did 
me a very substantial service. The Tall Mall Gazette, 5 
among its multifarious activities, was giving prominence to 
the respective academic successes of the chief public schools. 
At the head of the list stood St. Paul's, under the famous 
Walker, with eleven scholarships to its credit. My little 
success at Oxford happened to bring Eton level with St. 
Paul's, and so was particularly gratifying to the authorities. 
Among the properties of the school, advertised but unknown, 
were certain c Goodall Exhibitions, to which deserving boys 
are nominated.' I was doubtful whether Dr. Hornby would 
even now consider me a deserving boy. But I needed any 
subsidy I could get, so with the help of my tutor, Johnny 
Cole, I sent in an application. It was promptly granted, 
and I could go up to Oxford without the fear of putting an 
intolerable strain upon the family funds. 

Beyond that point, the future was too nebulous to be 
worth considering. Most of my contemporaries had long 
since settled their vocations in life, and were already looking 
forward, with the help of family advice and influence, to 
the Army or the Civil Service, to the learned professions, to 
big business, or to politics. I had no such family experience 

9 1 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1885-1887 

to direct me, nor the very least inclination to take orders, 
the one course which would really have pleased my mother. 
My interest in geology had long ago been stifled. My 
experiments in writing had all been heavy, ridiculous fail 
ures ; my little drawings, though they amused me more, I 
knew to be equally contemptible. I had proved myself a 
second-rate scholar and a fourth-rate athlete ; a mastership 
in some minor preparatory school was the utmost I could 
expect. The prospect did not disturb me. I was fit for 
nothing better. 

Meanwhile existence for a member of Sixth Form was 
made uncommonly pleasant. I still recall a delightful 
dinner with Mr. E. L. Vaughan, where A. C. Benson, with 
perhaps more eloquence than accuracy, held forth on art; 
and others where Edmond Warre, laying aside the robes of 
authority, became the most jovial of hosts, and opened our 
eyes to the ways and thoughts of the outside world. On 
another unforgettable day, Headlam, Tommy Lewis and I 
were granted the privilege of rowing up to Maidenhead, of 
dining, discreetly you may be sure, at a riverside hotel, and 
of loafing down-stream through the twilight to the Brocas. 
College cricket, at this time, being in a poor way, the more 
strenuous among us consoled ourselves first with single- 
wicket games, and then with lawn-tennis, a novelty in more 
than one sense when played on the nubbly bit of grass by 
the river, just beyond Sheep's Bridge. And, of course, 
there was always the fishing. 

Had I been no sentimentalist, I might still have found it 
just a little melancholy to bid farewell to this friendly 
sheltered life; its majestic setting, and its historic associa 
tions. But all such appropriate regrets were driven clean 
out of my head by the sudden appearance of my good uncle 
Edmund on my very last afternoon. He had been respon 
sible for my coming to Eton, and wished to see before I 
left how the experiment had worked. Unluckily that 
enthusiastic geologist was famous for his neglect of outward 
appearances. * The best fellow in Lancashire, and the worst- 

92 



1885-1887] ETON AND RUSKIN 

dressed man/ so an old friend once described him. On this 
occasion he had surpassed himself. Accustomed as I was 
to his normal untidiness, I got a distinct shock at the sight 
of the deplorable bowler descending over his ears, and the 
grubby ragged raincoat, wherein he was duly piloted by 
embarrassed affection all round the school in the summer 
sunshine. When we had made our final progress through 
the smart crowd of loungers up-town, and had reached the 
station, he suddenly said, c You wouldn't suppose, to look 
at me, that I was carrying over 30,000 in my pocket to be 
delivered in London to-morrow? No one would think I 
was worth robbing ? ' I assured him fervently that he need 
have no fear on that score. 



93 



CHAPTER VI 

BRASENOSE 

(1887-1889) 

A tour in Scotland; pictures at Manchester and Preston; carp 
and eels at Kirkham; friends and dons at Brasenose; Dr. 
Butler; Dr. Bussell; Walter Pater; the Rev, A. Chandler; 
boxing and other exercises; sketching and collecting; the 
Windrush; offer from Mr. Rivington. 

THE occupations of my last year at Eton had been too 
anxious and too strenuous to leave leisure for the pursuit of 
art, except during the few weeks when I was laid up with 
a twisted knee. Now several factors combined to remove 
disabilities and encourage me to play with water-colours. 
In the first place, I did not look well and was sent to a 
clever Preston doctor to be overhauled. He reported over 
taxed strength, and imminent risk of my father's lung 
trouble developing, unless I was more moderate in every 
sort of physical exertion. For example, when I went up to 
Oxfof d, I was not to row. I wondered whether we seniors 
in College did not really play rather too much football 
(seven games or so weekly) during the Winter Half. None 
the less, thinking him an alarmist, I did not pass on his 
opinion to my people ; but it was to be sadly justified a 
year or two later in my brother's person. 

Then, for a change of air, we had a trip to Scotland with 
my mother and a friend, Mrs. Inman, who had taken a 
lively interest in my efforts at drawing. The scenes on that 
journey were a revelation. They began with the Shap fells 
showing dark and huge against the barred sky of early 
morning: later we saw the mists on the Clyde gradually 
illumined and dissipated by the sun ; then we were enchanted 
by the transparent western sea, its filmy inhabitants all 

94 



1887-1889] BRASENOSE 

showing clear in the warm afternoon light. From Oban, 
our first stopping-place, I went out and made my first sketch 
from nature near Dunolly Castle. I found water-colour work 
in the open air to be such a troublesome business that, when 
we had crossed among the sheep in a tossing, splashing ferry 
boat to Kerrera, I tackled the little tower of Gylen in pencil 
only. Finding pencil much less time- was ting, than colour, 
I continued the practice. Over Loch Linnhe lay the hills 
of Morven and of Mull; they looked like a succession of 
Turner sketches as the clouds streamed and drifted across 
their shadowy contours. We naturally walked to the head 
of Glencoe, and miscalculating our time, had to run all the 
last seven miles back to Ballachulish from fear of missing the 
'Mountaineer.' The wretched boat was an hour and a 
quarter late, so for that period we sat on the pier kicking 
our heels, cooling our bodies, and blessing Mr. David Mac- 
Brayne. But the food provided on the boat proved so excel 
lent that we could bear no malice. From Dalmally, we 
tackled Ben Cruachan, to be defeated at last by mist 
when close to the very summit. Each of these excursions 
yielded one or two little pencil - drawings four or five 
inches square, to be finished at home and coloured from 
memory. 

When we reached Killin, the scenery of Loch Tay excited 
us less than the sight of the Dochart, streaming among rocks 
and pot-holes under the bridge below the fir-topped island. 
To fish became more desirable than to draw ; so at a linen- 
draper's I purchased for three shillings a stained rod, said 
to be greenheart, a few yards of line, a cast and a few flies. 
Several days passed before I could get out a passable line, 
but in the end, by crouching or lying flat on the rocks, I was 
able to deceive salmon-parr, and once actually lifted a half- 
pounder on to the stone which was my foothold, but alas ! 
he got off into the water as I unhooked him. Nevertheless, 
when we left Killin I felt we had passed a sort of angling 
Rubicon. Henceforth, in a sort of way, I could throw a fly. 
That three-shilling rod, too, when fitted for a winch, was to 

95 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1887-1889 

kill several hundred fish, before passing, dusty but unbroken, 
to the corner where derelicts repose. 

Callander and the Trossachs, even Stirling and Edinburgh, 
are memories relatively faint, although posters announcing 
Irving as * Hamlet/ at Edinburgh, led to the hope that we 
might stay on one day more and see the famous man. But 
my cautious mother, judging that even Irving's name and 
the connexion with Shakespeare would not reconcile my 
grandfather to our indulging in a theatre, decided that it 
would be safer to renounce the tempting prospect ; so back 
we came. This Puritanic severity was shortly afterwards 
relaxed. We were permitted occasionally to watch the 
efforts of such touring companies as might visit the Theatre 
Royal, Preston, but their performances were not calculated 
to arouse enthusiasm for the stage, even though it was half- 
forbidden fruit. 

The ideas of light and colour which Scotland had inspired 
were quickly reinforced by seeing the pictures in the Man 
chester Jubilee Exhibition. Hitherto my single source of 
artistic nourishment had been the little Newsham collection, 
crowded at this time into two or three small rooms in 
Preston Town Hall, which, with all its merit as a fine 
specimen of Gilbert-Scott-Gothic, was singularly ill-adapted 
for a picture-gallery. A vivid work by J. F. Lewis, several 
fiery landscapes by Linnell, and above all, the Arundel print 
of the Adoration of the Lamb attracted me most. The pictures 
collected at Manchester were far more notable, and war 
ranted three excursions, a great effort for those days. Here 
I was introduced to the Pre-Raphaelites, to Rossetti's vivid 
colour-patterns, and to Millais' Autumn Leaves, which seemed 
then the most desirable of all, and has even now lost but 
little of that first enchantment. Of the larger works I was 
impressed by Poynter's little-known decorative paintings 
dealing with the legfend of the Dragon of Wantley, and more 
particularly by Leighton's Hercules wrestling with Death. I 
have not seen the picture for many years, but surely it is far 
above the average of Victorian products in the classical mode? 

96 



1887-1889] BRASENOSE 

With all these fresh matters for speculation and experi 
ment, I stippled away happily on my little scraps of What 
man. This occupation at first was naturally thought by 
practical uncles to be mere idling, but the single expostula 
tion which I happened to overhear was dealt with very 
decisively by my mother. * It does no harm ; it keeps him 
out of mischief, and I intend to encourage it.' She herself 
had drawn and painted a little, many years before, under 
my father's guidance, and her natural eye for the picturesque, 
both in hill scenery and in the smoke and flame of the indus 
trial Midlands, had doubtless some effect in directing my 
attention to similar themes. A view of the factories at 
Warrington as seen from the train at evening was my first 
'Industrial' experiment. In the winter, on the way back 
from watching football at Deepdale, we passed the skeleton 
of a burned-out cotton-mill, rising black and gaunt from 
the water; a vision which has always remained in my 
memory, but which I could never turn into a satisfactory 
picture. 

From time to time we were entertained at Kirkham by a 
sort of step-great-aunt, Mrs. Langton Birley, a clever, kindly, 
masterful old lady whom we loved and obeyed. Her fac 
totum, Wilson the butler, had also won our hearts in child 
hood by his many tricks, our respect by his versatile talent. 
During this summer my brother and I were staying at Carr 
Hill, playing tennis on the lawn after lunch, when Wilson 
came out to make some announcement about meals. He 
watched us for a moment : then, picking up a racket, offered 
to play the two of us, and won a love game too, by means of 
a fast underhand service. As he retired he expressed the 
hope that our fishing, our chief occupation on this visit, 
would be more successful than our tennis. He would bring 
out a basket before lunch on the following day, to fetch our 
catch for his chickens. Now the mill-ponds at Kirkham 
were almost virgin water, and we had possibly been a little 
proud of catching twenty or thirty carp and roach that 
morning. But this challenge put us on our mettle, and we 

97 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1887-1880 

&. / j 

extracted a promise that Wilson would carry all our catch 
back to the house. 

Furnishing ourselves with a double allowance of bread for 
paste, we set forth early and fished with extra care. The 
carp bit well, and presently a small roach came to my 
hook. Disdaining such small fry, I put him back and he 
wobbled off over the top of the water three or four yards 
away. There came a flash in the depths, and from them 
serpentined up a great eel, all green and silver and some 
five feet long, seized the unlucky roach by the middle as a 
pike would do, and went back into the shadows. There 
was no time to deal with him then : our business was carp- 
catching. At last this pleasant corner among the water- 
lilies seemed exhausted, and we turned back to the great 
steaming pond in the middle of the mill-yard, which was 
reputed to contain the largest fish of all. Soon we were 
battling with them; once or twice their rushes broke our 
tackle ; then a foreman came to beg us to stop. Every door 
and window in the great buildings round us was crowded 
with watchers who had left their looms, and could not be 
induced to go back. 

But we had done enough. When our friend Wilson 
appeared, carrying in misplaced derision a huge clothes- 
basket, he got a shock. My brother's total was 38 carp, 
mine was 47 ; few were under lb., eight were well over 
i lb., and one was some 2| Ibs. Wilson had to cry off his 
bargain it was half-a-mile or more to the house but as 
compensation he gave us directions to find the pike at Wrea 
Green, some three miles off, a monster which devoured 
water birds, broke all anglers' tackle, and was credibly 
reported to weigh over 20 pounds. Here was adventure 
indeed for the morrow, when we had settled the problem 
suggested by the great eel. 

That evening we set five stout night-lines, baiting them 
with dead roach. The next morning three were found 
twisted and broken, the others each held an eel of about 
2 pounds a disappointing result. Borrowing a bucket 

98 



1887-1889] BRASENOSE 

from the mill, we proceeded to catch six or eight roach 
(they came to the hook like minnows), and then carried 
our splashing load between us, under a blazing August sun, 
over the infernal interminable cobble-stones of Kirkham 
and the dusty high road to Wrea Green. There we fished 
all through the long summer day, up and down the big 
pond to which we were directed, without the semblance of 
a 'run/ until the approach of the dinner hour compelled 
us to empty our bucket and hurry back. We might have 
done better had we devoted the day (our last) to those 
giant eels. I have often wondered whether, like most of the 
Lancashire mill-fish, they succumbed to poisonous lubri 
cants. As for the Wrea Green pike, he was found dead, 
apparently from starvation, in the following spring; his 
wasted remains weighed only 8 J Ibs. 

All this time the usual crop of family speculations sur 
rounded my future at Oxford. Only one of them caused 
me some little anxiety. By an odd coincidence, the senior 
scholarship at Brasenose had been gained by that very same 
Cripps, whose success at Winchester five years earlier had 
led my people to send me in for a scholarship at Eton. Our 
common acquaintances, in consequence, leaped to the con 
clusion that we should shortly meet and become friends. In 
reality, nothing is more certainly calculated to breed sus 
picion and dislike than such premature recommendation. 
I already loathed the name of one cousin (who proved when 
I met him to be delightful), because his academic triumphs 
were constantly held up to me for an example. Still more 
ghastly was the case of two other cousins, whom I was asked 
to befriend on their coming to Eton. One youth met me 
with a self-sufficiency which at least had the merit of excusing 
further intercourse ; the other developed a simple dog-like 
fidelity which became quite embarrassing. 

Life at Brasenose started officially with Chapel, and there, 
exchanging names before the service, I discovered Cripps to 
be my good-looking neighbour, cool and remote, but with a 
twinkle in his eye. In course of the service, the senior scholar 

99 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1887-1889 

of a previous year, now a well-known member of the Fly- 
Fishers 9 Club, stepped out to read the Lesson. He stood a 
long time at the Lectern, getting redder and redder and 
turning the pages of the Bible this way and that. At last 
he started bravely, only to be pulled up at once by a high- 
pitched voice from the Vice-Principal's desk ; the lesson he 
was reading was not the right one. 'Please, Sir,' he 
answered, 'the page isn't in the Book, Sir,' and went on 
firmly with his chapter. This pleasing incident broke down 
any remains of diffidence between us. Cripps and I had 
coffee together after Hall, and then adjourned to the rooms 
of an Eton contemporary whom I had recognized at the 
freshmen's table. 

With him we found another freshman, whose rather simple 
face concealed, as we discovered later, no little shrewdness 
and common sense. Whisky was produced and whist pro 
posed. I drew Cripps for partner. What points should we 
play? 'Oh!' said Cripps, laughing, c the usual thing I 
suppose? Pound points and a fiver on the rubber.' His 
perilous jest was taken seriously by our opponents; I was 
too raw and timid to make a protest; and so that night 
mare game began. I made a vow that, if Providence would 
only deliver me from the ruin that threatened my very first 
night at Oxford, I would never again play cards for money. 
And Providence must have heard the prayer. I had never 
less than five trumps in my hand and sometimes seven; 
victory was inevitable even for a duffer. The others played 
well (both, I found, were practised hands), but could do 
nothing against my luck. Their discomfort as the score 
steadily rose became unpleasantly evident. Finally the 
simple one rapped out, 'Here, I'm not going on with this. 
What do we owe you? 1 'Fifty-two points at a penny,' 
replied Cripps to my intense relief, and the words were 
hardly spoken before each had whipped out the silver on to 
the table. I still wonder what would have happened if the 
luck had been on their side ! 

Brasenose, 'Good old B.N.C/ as others termed it, had a 
100 



1887-1889] BRASENOSE 

character of its own for festive good-fellowship. As Balliol 
enlisted clever heads, so B.N.C. enlisted stout legs and 
arms. Matriculation was not made unduly difficult for 
deserving athletes. Yet a certain standard was maintained. 
For example, in my time, a well-known Eton oarsman was 
refused admittance. 'He couldn't spell/ explained the 
apologetic examiner; 'he could hardly even write his own 
name; we had to draw the line somewhere.' The College 
numbered only about 120, and then owed its repute to five 
or six famous rowing men, a great footballer, and to the 
Captain of the Oxford XL Behind them came a dozen 
stout secondary performers, all being reinforced and, in 
season, applauded by some sixty vigorous, lively young 
Philistines. The more active scholars kept in touch with 
this central group ; a company tolerant of the genial duffer, 
merciless to the prig. Brasenose has never been famous for 
imparting the Oxford voice and manner. 

I duly put my name down for rowing, but, when weighed, 
was judged too light for the 12-stone average of a Brasenose 
torpid. Next I tried football. The College then had but 
little need for it, and practice involved going alone to the 
Parks, to play aimless Association with a crowd of strangers. 
This futile dissipation of energy soon palled, and left me 
free to go my own way with Cripps. He, though naturally 
a fine athlete, was debarred alike from rowing and football 
by a damaged ankle, so that, for the moment, he had to 
seek air and exercise in other directions. 

Of the Principal, * Toby ' Watson, a retiring Ciceronian, 
we naturally saw very little; but the well-beloved Vice- 
Principal, C. B. Heberden, lived on my staircase, and was 
about our path continually, a kindly scrupulous director of 
lectures and an uncommonly fine pianist. The good-looking 
Bursar, A. J. Butler, appeared first as the setter of Shake 
speare's Sonnets, and the like severities, for Greek or Latin 
Verse, and as an austere critic of the trash that resulted. 
Gradually we came to know his charming wife and young 
family, his taste as a connoisseur, and his enthusiasm for 

101 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1887-1889 

sport. He showed us the hidden treasures of the University 
Galleries, including the drawings by Turner and Ruskin in 
the Ruskin Drawing School: he was able to verify Willy 
Pedder's reference to the Windrush, and hinted that one 
day, perhaps, we might be allowed to visit the river, 

Latin Prose was supervised by Doctor Bussell, already a 
notable Oxford figure, with his eyeglass and dandified air, 
his smart riding-breeches and equally smart repartees ; his 
phenomenal knowledge of philosophy and political history, 
of silver Latin and of stocks and shares; his precocious 
Doctorate in music and his singing of nigger-songs in an 
amazing falsetto treble. To rne he was kindness itself. 
Deploring my complete ignorance of grammar and of style, 
he set himself one day to show me by the example of Tacitus, 
taken sentence by sentence, what literary expression really 
involved ; emphasis in just the right place, with due regard 
to verbal assonances and variety of form. It was the best 
lesson I ever had, and made me feel how utterly wrong and 
unhelpful was the system on which I had been taught at 
Canterbury and Eton, the mechanical grinding at grammar 
and vocabulary with no comprehension of the essential thing 
the precise and rhythmical use of words. 

Looking back upon that remarkable half-hour, I have 
sometimes wondered whether its exceptional quality was not 
derived, in part at least, from Dr. BusselPs constant com 
panion, Walter Pater. Pater's appearance at the time of my 
coming to Brasenose differed considerably from that which 
some three years later became familiar in Kensington. 
There he tripped along in a smart top-hat and black jacket, 
with stiff clipped moustache, neatly rolled umbrella and 
dog-skin gloves. But for the dreamy fixity of his gray eyes 
he might have been a retired major in the Rifle Brigade. At 
Oxford his hair was left to grow rather long, his moustaches 
to droop, his walk was a paddle, and the general effect that 
of a foreign musician, or possibly an organist. He took little 
part in College affairs, except to look over the essays of 
seniors when reading for c Greats, 5 and to lecture from time 

102 



1887-1889] BRASENOSE 

to time on Plato. But his books, the * Renaissance,' 'Marius 
the Epicurean 5 and the recently published 'Imaginary 
Portraits/ rendered him, for many of us, the most important 
personage in Oxford. 

If Pater's public repute first impelled us to read him, it 
was by the exciting novelty of his message and the manner 
of its delivery that he held us. Novelty, excitement; the 
words may now sound quaintly, but to repressed youthful 
Victorians the aesthetic ideal of life as outlined, with purple 
ink, in the Epilogue to the 'Renaissance, 5 and expanded 
more helpfully in the two later books, was nothing less than a 
revelation. However imperfectly apprehended, and we soon 
had evidence of the absurdities to which weak heads could 
reduce it, the theory gave a stimulus to thought, a purpose 
in the conduct of life, that were infinitely better than mere 
drifting with the current. If we did attach to certain 
sonorous paragraphs rather more importance than their 
actual content deserved, their quality anyhow helped us to 
appreciate the musical element in other literature ; although, 
judging from certain deplorable essays, recently unearthed, 
the immediate effect was absolutely nil. 

Pater was reputed to enjoy the high spirits and physical 
energy of the young barbarians about him. Once, he must 
have been sorely tried. During a rag, two exuberant sports 
men upset a large can of paraffin upon a second-floor carpet. 
Slowly the contents trickled between the ancient floor 
boards, and finally dripped steadily on to Pater's head as he 
lay asleep in the room below. Trouble followed the next 
morning, as a doggerel couplet, in a familiar hand, recorded 
on the plaster sacred to such inscriptions. 

c Numphigenes oleo ludit Fenumque sub alma 
Matre, sed, O Monstrum; projicit ipse Pater.' 

Of the lectures chosen for me, mostly under protest, only 
those on Aristotle's 'Poetics' were really inspiring, as 
much perhaps for the stately manner of the lecturer as for 
their subject-matter, though that was interesting enough. 

103 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1887-1889 

Professor Riversby had a reputation for good-living. A friend 
told me that late one night he took an essay to the Rector of 
his College, a College which was just celebrating a notable 
success on the river. The discussion of the essay was sud 
denly disturbed by the rush of several lively rowing men 
along the passage outside, one of whom in passing shouted 
and thumped on the Rector's oak. My friend, recognizing 
the voice, feared that the tall oarsman who owned it would 
get into trouble. But the Rector, suddenly roused from his 
theological musings, was evidently not so much indignant as 
frightened . Advancing to the door, he whispered in tremulous 
entreaty, 'Riversby ! Riversby ! For Heaven's sake get to bed.' 

Our Brasenose Chaplain, the Rev. Arthur Chandler, after 
wards Bishop of Bloemfontein, provided exercise for the mind, 
the body, and on one occasion for the digestion. When we 
were very new to everything, he invited us casually and in 
formally to supper at 8.30. Being dubious as to what the 
invitation implied, Cripps and I elected to make things safe 
by dining substantially in Hall. When we got to Chandler's 
rooms an hour or two later, we found the friendly but awe- 
inspiring Bursar to be our fellow-guest, and the ' supper ' to 
be a most excellent dinner ; course after course, with wines 
to match. We did our valiant best to do them justice, but 
when we sank, at the coffee stage, into arm-chairs by the fire, 
our inert and comatose repletion could* no longer be hidden. 
Amidst roars of laughter we owned up, for fear that worse 
things than foolishness should be suspected. 

Chandler's subtle mind guided our first steps in philo 
sophy, and I quickly got into trouble over an essay on Free 
Will, which I innocently challenged on scientific grounds, 
being quite unaware of its theological import. Those were 
the days when Huxley and Dr. Wace fought month after 
month in the ( Nineteenth Century, 5 over such dilemmas as 
that involved in the Miracle of the Gadarene Swine. Far 
more value was then attached to the evidences of religion 
than is the case now, and discussions on such themes as the 
narratives of the Resurrection were keen and frequent. 

104 



1887-1889] BRASENOSE 

These problems, of course, were too simple and antiquated 
for the sacred precincts of the Ingoldsby (The College Essay 
Society), and for the deeply read seniors composing it, whose 
papers and debates we followed with considerable awe and 
little comprehension. Scholars of repute, philosophers 
familiar with 'Greats/ might possibly admit, with proper 
reservations and merely to facilitate discussion, that some 
form of provisional TELOS could be postulated as a substitute 
for the orthodox theogony; further than that they really 
could not go. To hear the learned Selbie, now Principal of 
Mansfield, dexterously holding some such intangible line 
of defence against the heavy guns and swift manoeuvres of 
E. B. Titchener, afterwards Professor of Philosophy at 
Cornell, was an education in dialectic. Titchener's was 
certainly the most remarkable intellect I had encountered 
hitherto, covering languages and literature, philosophy and 
biology, with such ease and confidence that his nickname of 
* God Almighty ' was not to be wondered at, although it did 
no justice to his merry, sociable and friendly temper. Only 
once had we the courage to withstand him. The Baconian 
theory had just been revived, and Titchener, having mastered 
Ignatius Donnelly, proceeded to sweep the whole Ingoldsby 
Society into belief in Bacon, his cipher and the conse 
quences. Utterly crushed in debate, and stubbornly imper 
vious to all arguments other than those founded upon the 
poetic quality of the works in question, Cripps and I alone 
maintained to the bitter end our faith in Shakespeare. 

Our Chaplain's activities outside Brasenose centred in the 
St. Aldate's Institute. There he got together a number of 
undergraduates, including one or two famous athletes, to 
interest and encourage the young men from the town. 
Gymnastics, boxing and fencing were taught. The fencing 
was of a rough-and-ready kind, the sergeant-instructor being 
no proficient. But Tom, I forget his surname, who taught 
boxing, was the local middle-weight champion, with more 
strength and pace than style, but a splendid fellow, with an 
imperturbable temper. By the aid of Ned Donnelly's little 

105 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1887-1889 

handbook, and dally bouts with my brother, I had already 
acquired some elements of self-defence. At the Institute I 
got regular practice with the redoubtable Tom, becoming 
in time a sort of assistant-professor, to teach the new-comers, 
undergraduate or otherwise. It was good training, for many 
of the novices were athletes, and even those with good 
tempers could not sometimes resist the temptation to try to 
score off their instructor. 

The winter provided a further lesson. John L. Sullivan, 
then champion of the world, gave a demonstration at 
Preston, bringing with him sundry middle-weights and 
light-weights. This, the first exhibition of professional box 
ing which I had seen, impressed me greatly by the extra 
ordinary speed and reach of all the contestants. Sam Black- 
lock, one of the subsidiaries, appeared in these respects to 
be nearly as wonderful as the massive champion. From that 
moment, I set myself to acquire something like the same 
rapidity of movement and footwork, until there was little or 
nothing to fear from even the most violent of my Oxford 
opponents ; except of course from honest Tom, whose whirl 
wind of hammer-blows could be met but imperfectly, and 
returned hardly at all. 

To those who excel in nobler sports all this will seem but 
a squalid business ; yet I do not repent in the least of the 
time spent on boxing. Boxing was excellent medicine for 
one both timid and quick-tempered. Half-an-hour or so 
gave the muscles enough exercise for a whole day ; no mean 
virtue when other outlets for activity were few or inter 
mittent. Certainly I never again got quite so physically 
fit, and the mild confidence acquired has carried me through 
more than one unpleasant encounter in after-life. 

Brasenose at this time, with C. W. Kent and other notable 
oarsmen, was creating a new record at the head of the River, 
a record of which we ' dry-bobs ' were naturally proud, but 
in which we played no part whatever. College cricket, as 
we had been, warned, was run rather like country-house 
cricket. The College ground at that time was far away; 

1 06 



1887-1889] BRASENOSE 

there were no opportunities for practice, and though our 
seniors meant well, we had few interests in common with 
them. So I came to avoid cricket, except when there was 
urgent need for an extra bowler, finding lawn-tennis, at 
which Cripps was a proficient, much better managed and 
more sociable. 

Going to breakfast one Sunday with Rashleigh, then Cap 
tain of the Oxford Eleven, I found him indignant over the 
behaviour of W. G. Grace. W. G. had brought a team 
(perhaps the M.C.C.) to play against the University. At 
a dinner preceding the match, a waiter, by mistake, gave 
him liqueur brandy instead of sherry. Grace, suspecting a 
trick and having a head like cast-iron, said nothing, but 
insisted on 'taking wine' in turn with all the University 
team, until they were half fuddled and failed abjectly on 
the following day. He may have had some faint ground 
for suspicion. I remember when a very famous professional 
team of footballers came to Oxford to play the University, 
we were amazed to see their Captain fall flat on his face as 
he kicked off. They had been entertained just before to a 
sumptuous lunch, and the University in consequence lost 
only by four goals to none. , 

Our staple exercise, when nothing more strenuous claimed 
us, was walking. In those days the country round Oxford 
still retained the solitary pastoral character immortalized in 
'Thyrsis' and 'The Scholar Gipsy/ Though we seldom 
went very far afield, the memory of some of those walks 
remains when countless things which were doubtless more 
important have completely vanished from the mind. It is 
impossible to forget the Rubens-like sunsets over the wet 
autumnal fields by Water-Eaton, the glories of a June morn 
ing on the track down to Bablockhythe, and the great 
panoramas from sundry high places: from Beckley, from 
the then lonely Boars 3 Hill, from the then unpolluted Cumnor 
Hurst. Also there was a great walk to Blenheim and Wood 
stock, made memorable by a midday meal of excellent 
roast mutton, apple-tart, cheese and three quarts of cider 

107 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1887-1889 

(one for our friendly host) at a nameless little inn at Bladon. 
When I asked what the bill was, the innkeeper answered 
'Fifteen pence.' I put down half-a-crown for the two of 
us, marvelling that we should escape so lightly; and the 
good man handed me back one and threepence change. 

These landscape impressions I tried to record in dry little 
water-colours. So unusual was the practice of drawing, so 
childish my products, that I was driven at first, by shyness, 
to explain them as the work of a mythical aunt. The single 
lecture by Herkomer, then Slade Professor, which I attended, 
taught me nothing, and deterred me from attending again. 
Through my friend Arthur Waters, I made the acquaintance 
of Mrs. Daniel of Worcester, always enthusiastic for the arts, 
and of her two little girls, Rachel and Ruth, who charmed 
me as they did so many far more famous persons. Through 
Cripps, I met the cultured Wykehamists of New College and 
saw Campbell Dodgson's library, reputed to be the best in 
Oxford. All were then excited over the critical revelations 
of Morelli; a waste of time it seemed to me, when so many 
of the much-discussed works were evidently second-rate. 
Of Winchester I had gained some little knowledge from 
Cripps and from a new friend, Harold Child, who came 
to Brasenose in 1888, and whose subsequent career as a 
man of letters was foreshadowed by an enthusiasm for litera 
ture which he had caught from Lionel Johnson. College 
at Winchester might have many parallels with College at 
Eton ; its peculiar, intensive football ; its epic, culminating 
in a terrific fight; its comedy, recorded in the 'Mushri 
Dictionary ' ; but in its patronage of art and letters it was 
unquestionably superior. 

Another scholar and friend, B. S. Cornish, had inherited 
sundry Sketch Club drawings, among them two worked in 
monochrome by Cotman. These introduced me to a larger 
and grander style than anything I had previously seen, but 
I was much too inexperienced to understand or to imitate 
their quality. With Cornish, too, I hunted through the 
Oxford print-shops, Chaundy's in particular, buying scraps 

1 08 





u 

Q 





w 



1887-1889] BRASENOSE 

of water-colour and minor etchings, and then, by comparison, 
finding out slowly what they were, or, more frequently, were 
not. If it be true that what we call experience is the record 
of our failures, I graduated early. Incidentally, among the 
etchings were certain early examples of William Strang, 
issued by the 'Portfolio.' Compared with most of the other 
things we saw, these seemed like the work of a giant, and 
indeed little else produced in the 'eighties could compare with 
them for power. No trace of these admirations is reflected in my 
own feeble efforts ; I was still the slave of shilling handbooks. 

A glorious memory of a very different kind is connected 
with a summer morning in 1888, when our friend Dr. Butler, 
after correcting my verses, said that, if Cripps and I cared 
to do so, we could go over to the Windrush by the 12 o'clock 
train. In the hope of this great event I had brought up my 
three-shilling rod; Cripps had bought a rod from Barn- 
bridge of Eton ; both of us had invested in casts and clumsy 
cork-bodied Mayflies. From South Leigh we found our way 
across fields and fences, with the scent and blossom of the 
May all about us, until at last, by a bridge at the end of a big 
pasture, we came suddenly upon the rushing, weedy stream. 

Cripps had never thrown a fly, so after a few minutes 
spent in explaining the essential movements, I left him by a 
shallow to practise, and crossed the bridge. As I did so a 
heavy shower blew up from the south-west, lashing the 
willows and drenching the meadow through which I 
struggled knee-deep. I had hardly reached the water below 
when out came the sun, and with it such a hatch of Mayfly 
as I have never seen again. In a moment the whole river 
was alive with splashing silvery monsters ; the average length 
seemed to be about two feet. I hooked three in quick succes 
sion ; no less quickly did they roll over and carry away my 
three new and costly Oxford casts. I was left only one two- 
yard length of gut, tied by myself, ancient and clumsy, but 
still apparently strong. With this I started afresh. Alas! 
the trout had lost their first greediness, and disdained my 
bedraggled monstrosity of a fly. I had to catch a natural 

109 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1887-1889 

one, and that did the trick. In less than a minute I was 
steering a fish to the bank, while behind me a red-faced and 
excited young farmer was dancing about in his hay-grass 
and jabbing into the water with my landing-net. Depriving 
him of that dangerous weapon, I got the fish on to the bank. 
It was all bright silver like a sea-trout, and weighed 2 J Ibs. 
that evening. 

Still lost in wonder, I was roused by a shout from Cripps 
running across the meadow with a fish uplifted, c Was it 
above the limit? ' It was well over f lb. ? so we had our brace. 
That marvellous rise was not yet over, for a little later I got 
a second fish of 1 1 Ib. Though we never saw another trout 
that day, our return was a triumph, and the fish at breakfast 
proved as goodly to eat as they had been to see. 

I have fished the water, on and off, for forty-five years, yet 
that wonderful first visit remains unique. In 1889 only chub 
showed. I hooked one very big one and, after ten minutes, 
got him from the deeps into my net. Having nothing else to 
show, I took him back to the College kitchen for fat Tom 
the scout. When I told Ronald Vickers, a brother angler, 
that I had caught a chub of 3 Ibs. or more, he said, with the 
simplicity of those days, 'You liar.' We adjourned to the 
kitchen; the fish weighed 4 Ibs. 15 ozs. Those great days 
are over. Pollution from Witney, ten years later, killed all 
the fish and their food; subsequent re-stocking has never 
restored the ancient happy conditions. Yet the new fish, 
though far fewer in number 3 are much better fighters than 
of old ; indeed in this respect they are not much inferior to 
the sea-trout whom they have come once more to resemble. 

Sea-trout we had met in 1888, during the visit to Lakeside 
which is mentioned in c The Tarn and the Lake.' But the 
playing of the largest of all was interrupted by the sudden 
charge of a bull from behind. Before making off I attempted 
to hoist the fish out, but he was too big to lift, the trace broke, 
and I had to run for it, in a heavy Inverness cape, thick 
boots and gaiters, with 1 4-foot rod and landing-net, a creel 
with various tins, a flask, and a brace of fish, thumping and 

no 



1887-1889] BRASENOSE 

clanking on my back. I am no runner, but on that occasion 
I ran, jumped a broad feeder, and climbed a six-foot timber 
fence, with the snorting brute galloping just behind. Ever 
since then I have been inordinately shy of the cattle in 
unknown places. 

I had made a mess of c Mods. 3 by reading myself stupid at 
the last moment. The mediocre Second Class which re 
sulted made my future prospects anything but bright. Nor 
did Plato, and the subjects I was taking for c Greats/ arouse 
any hopeful enthusiasm about my final Schools. I was 
plodding gloomily through Herbert Spencer at Preston, 
when I received a letter from my cousin Frank Rivington, 
the head of the publishing firm, offering me a trial there. 

3 Waterloo Place, 
July nth 1889. 

MY DEAR HOLMES, . . . Should you decide upon leaving 
Oxford and coining at once I propose to make an arrangement 
for 2 years at a salary of 300 per annum. I cannot guarantee 
anything beyond the 2 years, but my hope is that you will 
make yourself so thoroughly acquainted with the business that 
you will be able eventually to take a prominent part. 

You must not consider me responsible for your leaving Oxford 
and giving up any prospects, but I should be pleased to fall in 
with any arrangement by which you could at some convenient 
time take your degree. If you accept my proposal you could 
come when you like, but it would be best to commence when I 
am here; in September I shall probably be away. I am, 
Yours sincerely, F. H. RTVINGTON. 

To hesitate over such a proposal would have been ridiculous, 
even if my circumstances had been far better than they were. 
I closed with the offer; wrote to Eton and to Brasenose 
resigning my scholarships ; came up to Oxford to collect my 
little property, and, incidentally, on a hint from Jones our 
good College porter, secured quite a nice little lot of books 
from Gee the bookseller, with whom I had a credit. Gee 
went bankrupt on the following day. Then, about the 
middle of August, I said farewell to Lancashire and started 
life as a publisher's assistant in London. 

in 



CHAPTER VII 

RIVINGTONS 
(1889-1890) 

The Rivington firm ; Francis Rivington, churchman and man 
of business ; my training ; life in London ; in Edinburgh with 
W. B. Blaikie; Henley and the 'Scots Observer'; curious 
experience at Preston; death of my grandfather and my 
brother; Mr. Rivington's anxieties; the business sold to 
Longmans ; introduction to Mr. Hanson. 

FRANCIS HANSARD RIVINGTON, whose service I thus entered, 
had just dissolved partnership with his younger brother 
Septimus, and so become sole proprietor of the business of 
Rivington and Co. The oldest publishing firm in Great 
Britain, it had maintained a record of almost monotonous 
respectability from the time of its foundation in 17 ii. 1 
Its branches in the City, at Oxford and at Cambridge, had 
for some time been given up, and the business concentrated 
in handsome pillared premises at 3 Waterloo Place, where 
relics of its former bookselling activities survived in the 
painted wooden sign of The Bible and Crown from St. Paul's 
Churchyard, and a Retail Department on the ground floor. 
Though no longer directly profitable, this shop was permitted 
to exist as a sort of rendezvous for folk of a religious bent. 
Mr. Gladstone, for example, was a regular customer; his 
postcards the subject of competition or petty commerce 
among local autograph-hunters. Also the latest publications 
of rival firms were always at hand, to be examined and 
analysed by those whose business it was to manufacture 
something still better. 
The inclination of the Rivingtons towards divinity and 

1 An account of the firm and its ventures will be found in The Publishing 
Family of Rivington, by Septimus Rivington, M.A. London : Rivingtons j 1919. 

112 



i88q-i8go] RIVINGTONS 

<j *j j 

devotional works had been accentuated by close connexion 
with the leaders of the Oxford Movement. As the public 
interest in church matters waned, decreasing profits from 
sermons were supplemented by publishing school-books, 
which the partners had gradually reduced to something like 
an exact commercial science. The obtaining and making 
of up-to-date school-books had been the duty of my cousin 
Septimus. Religion, together with the finance and general 
conduct of the business, had been the province of the elder 
brother, my new chief. 

His temper and his intellect enabled Francis Rivington to 
reconcile and to control without effort these apparently 
disparate interests. Acquiring, amid the controversies sur 
rounding the Oxford Movement, a singular knowledge of 
theologians and the Liturgy, he had become a zealous High 
Churchman, a liberal donor to Anglican causes, and a grim 
critic of their finance. The Church of All Saints 3 Margaret 
Street, was his especial care; almost all the well-known 
divines of the time were his friends or acquaintances. Few 
laymen indeed could have been so useful to them. His own 
attitude is best explained, perhaps, by a remark he once 
made to me when musing after dinner on the decline of 
religion in England. 'After all, the Church remains a great 
body; especially if we add to the Church Visible upon 
Earth the Church Invisible in Heaven. But/ he added 
regretfully, 'the latter don't buy books.' 

His experience of business was no less complete. He had 
been plunged into its depths, as a collector of accounts and 
a subscriber of new books, from the moment that he left 
Highgate School (where my father had been his contem 
porary), at the age of seventeen. During the next thirty- 
eight years he had mastered its principles, so far as they 
affected the House of Rivington, by shrewd calculation and 
practical experiment. Recognizing, for example, that the 
booksellers were ruining themselves by giving excessive dis 
counts to the public, Rivingtons introduced the net system 
in 1852, and maintained it for eight years. Then they were 

"3 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1889-1890 

compelled to abandon their lonely crusade, by the steady 
opposition of the retailers whom they had tried to benefit. 
This short-sighted stupidity caused a much-needed reform 
to be postponed for forty years. 

He was not a man to be trifled with. Once he arranged 
with a scholar, then of some repute, for a text-book on Logic. 
When the MS. was ready, the author received his fee, 100, 
sending in return a few pages of written matter. That was 
his book. Expostulation brought a letter, concluding, 'I 
often hear of troubles between publishers and authors, in 
which the publisher invariably has the best of it. This time, 
I think, the laugh is on the author's side.' Francis Rivington 
pondered. Then, with very large type and ample spacing 
he padded out that manuscript till it covered some 32 pages ; 
printed and bound 1000 copies, and sent out some 400 to 
the Press and the chief educational authorities, as the well- 
known scholar's latest work. The book was received with 
so much surprise and derision that the author asked leave to 
revise it. He got no reply, but the specimen copies were 
still more widely distributed, until the whole edition was 
gone, and the writer's reputation too. Again, when a well- 
connected assistant embezzled some 200, Mr. Rivington, 
in fairness to less privileged employes, felt bound to reject 
all offers of restitution, all family pleas for leniency, and to 
spend some 1200 upon pursuit to South America, extra 
dition and prosecution. 

Few men realized better the use and value of time. He 
was content to be thought old-fashioned, if a new fashion 
involved new calls upon his attention or his pocket. Prob 
ably no firm of the same magnitude as Rivingtons continued 
to keep their accounts by Single Entry. Francis Rivington did 
so deliberately, having calculated that a Double Entry staff 
would cost more than he could lose by occasional mistakes or 
pilfering. Many other possible developments of the business 
he no less deliberately neglected or deferred, because they 
involved greater claims upon his carefully guarded leisure 
than he chose to grant. The business was already sound and 

114 




z 



u 

ffi 

J 




2 



o 

2 



CO 

w 

o 

2 



1 889- 1 890] RI VINGTONS 

profitable ; extensions could be postponed until there were 
assistants to look after them. 

With this view, and to replace his brother Septimus, he 
had just taken in Mr. A. J. Butler, the Dante Scholar, from 
the Education Office, and Mr. Hatchard, publications and 
all, from Piccadilly. My position was of course more lowly, 
but I was soon admitted to an intimacy with my chief such 
as neither of my seniors enjoyed. Every morning, down in 
the basement among the packers, I wrote invoices, most of 
which were promptly torn up by Kelly, the supervising clerk, 
and had to be done again. In course of time I learned the 
trade prices, trade terms and relative popularity of our books, 
and got an acquaintance with the booksellers all over the 
country, their capacities, their temper, and, above all, their 
financial stability. The afternoon began upstairs with 
details of book production. I was drilled in estimating the 
price and quality of paper, in the methods and cost of print 
ing, illustrating and binding, and made the acquaintance of 
Evan Spicer, Emery Walker, H. Orrinsmith, and other 
specialists whom the firm favoured. These things mastered 
(and E. W. Hibburd, who looked after me, was as strict 
in his methods as Kelly), I was passed on to my cousin's 
private room, ostensibly to make the firm's new educational 
catalogue. In the intervals of this rather drowsy work the 
great man himself took me in hand, explaining the principles 
of business administration, wherein the kindly manager, 
H. A. MoncriefF, was also an adept. 

Francis Rivington spoke with an authority beyond ques 
tion. There was something Imperial in that stately little 
presence : his bust would have been in its place among the 
Caesars. When he smiled behind his gold spectacles he 
looked like a Brother Cheeryble ; when he did the opposite 
(it was rare, and never happened to me), he turned into a 
Bartolommeo Colleoni. Admiration for my father's self- 
sacrificing life may have started his interest in me. When I 
was at Eton he had put me up twice, once at no small 
inconvenience, for the Eton and Harrow match. Now with 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1889-1890 

infinite patience and kindness he went through the business 
of each day with me, introducing me gradually to the 
mystery of authors, their treatment and their agreements, 
asking me as gravely as if I had been senior partner, how 
this or that problem could best be handled, and not with 
holding even his private affairs from my knowledge, if there 
seemed to be anything in them by which I might profit. 
His worldly success, and the extraordinary foresight and 
good judgment by which he maintained it, so impressed me 
that I worked under him with an interest and an eagerness 
which I had never felt before. 

After a few months I was promoted to the responsible 
duty of interviewing authors in the chief's absence. My first 
experience was curious. A schoolmaster wrote offering 
something for publication which Francis Rivington intended 
to refuse. I happened to mention that I knew the author, 
and that he had once let me down rather badly in my 
earlier days. 'Well, 5 said he, 'it will be an excellent oppor 
tunity for you to learn to say "No " without causing offence.' 
Giving me some hints as to how the firm's decision could be 
conveyed most gently, he insisted that I should occupy his 
chair of state when the author called. The interview proved 
much less trying than I had expected, but the odd and, "as 
it happened, rather pitiful reversal of our situations con 
vinced me that the ancient idea of Nemesis might not be 
all superstition. 

It was quickly discovered that, as a religious publisher, 
there was no hope for me. Having naturally imbibed at 
Oxford a little of the current scepticism, I had rather 
shocked smiling Monsignor Rivington (alias Father Luke), 
my chief's brother, by the way I had talked of Catholicism 
to his friend Grissell, whose rooms at the corner of Holy well 
were rumoured to have witnessed many an undergraduate 
conversion. Then scepticism got an unexpected shock, 
during a visit to my uncle Frank Dickson at Ribchester. In 
his Trinity days he had been a runner and a hammer- 
thrower. We knew him as a poor, cheerful clergyman 

116 



1 889- 1 890] RI VINGTONS 

crippled by gastric trouble. At Ribchester he revealed him 
self in a new light. He had quickly made friends with 
Father Perry the astronomer, and the colony of priests at 
Stoneyhurst. His parishioners, on the other hand, were 
practically Galvinists no unusual phenomenon in Catholic 
Lancashire. To convert them to less narrow views v/as the 
immediate problem, and one which he soon mastered. 
When I had once heard him preach, and had talked with 
him a little, I recognized that here was something like 
genius, allied with gentle reason, of an order which I had 
never encountered. All objections were met, all difficulties 
explained, simply and at once. There must, I felt, be some 
thing very wrong with the Church of England, if it could 
leave such a man to labour and die (as he soon did) in a 
rough and remote parish, when in a wider field he might 
have done infinite good. 

In general, I disliked sermons and devotional works. 
Even Gore's 'Lux Mundi,* the Tract XC of the moment, 
proved unreadable. So I was definitely dedicated to the 
baser but more entertaining science of manufacturing school- 
books. Owing to Mr. Rivington's training I acquired, in 
less than a year, a quite precocious knowledge of the busi 
ness side of publishing, although in the conduct of larger 
affairs I remained almost as callow as nature had made me. 

life in London, too, now that the incubus of poverty was 
lifted, offered many pleasant novelties. The charming old 
streets behind Westminster Abbey had not then been dis 
covered by well-to-do Members of Parliament. They con 
tained only modest lodging-houses, among which, under the 
guidance of my good uncle Granville Dickson, then secretary 
of the Church Defence Association, I began to search for 
quarters. From our first choice, in Smith Square, I was 
evicted the moment my mother came up to London to see 
me, on the unchallengeable ground that the landlady was 
as disobliging as her rooms were filthy. From the more 
stately and far more comfortable first floor at 12 Great 
College Street, which she engaged for me, I walked every 

117 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1889-1890 

morning to Waterloo Place by Dean's Yard and St. James's 
Park. My office hours being ten to six, with a liberal 
interval for lunch, I could slip along, now and then, to the 
National Gallery at midday, and get a still more precious 
fifty minutes for practising water-colour before I set out in 
the morning. This daily exercise gave me some handiness 
with my materials : that was all. I had no idea of style : 
my work was still dry and niggled, the drawing timid, the 
colour garish or dull. 

London itself was far more exciting. At Westminster, in 
the Park, or in Pall Mall, one might see almost any of the 
notable men of the day: Mr. Gladstone (the collar dis 
appointing), Lord Salisbury (bigger than the caricatures), 
Mr. Balfour, Bishop Creighton (cigarette rather startling), 
Sir Frederic Leighton, looking like a little debonair Jupiter 
in a curly top-hat and flowing tie, as he set his smart shoe 
on Longman and Strongitharm's polished brass window- 
ledge to tie up an errant lace, or Sir John Millais looking 
like a stately and prosperous iron-master while at the 
National Gallery Sir Frederic Burton might be hanging 
pictures in a smart gray frock-coat and lilac gloves. When 
I came of age in November, my name was put down for 
the Athenaeum by my uncle Richard Holmes, and in the 
hall there I was introduced to Seymour Haden, then at the 
height of his fame, and to 'Hang Theology 1 Rogers, my 
father's venerable chief. I joined a humbler club hard by, 
which had no such long waiting-list as the Athenaeum, and 
some excellent Burgundy. It went bankrupt two years later, 
and let me in for 26. An Irish Debate in the House, with 
Colonel Saunderson taunting Tim Healy and the Parnellites, 
seemed another satisfactory proof that one was come to the 
very hub of the universe. 

Yet, such is human nature, the most consistent pleasure of 
all was to pass through Dean's Yard while the Westminster 
footballers were practising. The sight and the thud of the 
ball never failed to bring back the joyous days of College 
kick-about. And once, only once, I came through the 

118 



1889-1890] RIVINGTONS 

archway from Victoria Street upon the glorious vision of a 
ball sailing down over the railings only a few yards away. 
Alas ! my satisfaction in treating that volley as It deserved 
was marred by the misbehaviour of my top-hat, which flew 
off into a puddle. 

Having come down from Oxford two years in advance of 
my contemporaries, I was hard put to it at first for youthful 
company. My chief and other seniors were most hospitable, 
especially my uncle Granville. His pleasant house at Cheam 
became a regular week-end resort, where my clever aunt 
and lively, critical girl-cousins did their best to educate and 
entertain their clumsy relative. Yet solitary evenings in 
lodgings called for resources which I did not then possess, 
so I welcomed the suggestion that I should go up to Con 
stable's at Edinburgh, for a few weeks in December, to study 
the minor mysteries of printing. . For railway reading I was 
provided with two rival Greek Grammars, upon which a 
report was required. The comparison proved the reverse 
of tedious, and taught me more about the subject in 
a few hours than I had learned in the previous twelve 
years. 

After breaking my journey at some North-country paper- 
mills, bleak, savage uplands without, unlimited whisky 
within I came in due course to Edinburgh. The Athens of 
the North at this time deserved its title in more senses than 
one, for nowhere was respect so generally and naturally paid 
to art and letters. With these cultured activities my host, 
W. B. Blaikie, and the firm of T. and A. Constable which he 
controlled, were intimately connected. By day I would be 
working at Thistle Street, either with Blaikie himself, or 
with his delightful but less practical partner, Archibald 
Constable. He had seen Sir Walter Scott, and his literary 
attainments made him the prince of proof-readers. Or I 
might be allotted for a few days as assistant to the e minder 5 
of a Wharfedakj helping to * make ready ' with a lump of 
paste on the back of my hand, and when the machine had 
started, lifting off the printed sheets ; keeping an eye the 

119 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1889-1890 

while upon my toes, lest through some unwary movement 
they should get nipped off. 

But the mechanical side of the craft was not everything. 
The Constable firm, at this time, had no small share in the 
revival of printing as an art. Blaikie's taste and energy had 
equipped them with special types, special papers, and a 
style which had a character of its own, both handsome and 
solid. From Henley's little 'Book of Verses ' (bound, I was 
told, in the red cloth of Hamilton Bruce's curtains) and the 
'Scots Observer, 3 a weekly as striking in its typography as 
in its contents, to stately folios like c Quasi Cursores ' and the 
Trench and Dutch Loan Collection 3 catalogue, the Con 
stable products were alike distinguished. The contrast 
between them and the commercial printing of the day was 
emphasized by a visit to Thomas Nelson s s new works, then 
the very latest thing in scientific book production. It was 
fascinating to follow through room after room the develop 
ment of the various parts of a book, from the raw material 
to the finished state, until these various currents, so diverse in 
origin, finally united at the binding-press, to produce a 
brand-new school 'Reader. 3 Thomas Nelson, in his own 
field, was clearly invincible. Yet all his manufacturing 
ability could not prevent the result from cutting a very poor 
figure beside the Constable books, where the design of a 
single title-page would be a labour of love, and of several 
weeks. 

Out of office-hours I was introduced to the society of 
Edinburgh. The Professors of the University and the 
artists came first, -a genial company, in which I recall with 
particular pleasure the personality of David Masson and his 
stories of his native Aberdeen. In this company Walter 
Blaikie was well able to hold his own. Not only was he a 
Scot of Scots, nursed by the Alison Cunningham who later 
became famous as Stevenson's 'Gummy,' but as a young 
engineer in Kathiawar he had shot his lion, laid down a 
railway, built a palace, a church, a hospital, a jail, and 
planned a harbour; developing meanwhile the scientific 

120 



1889-1890] RIVINGTONS 

tastes and the profound historical knowledge for which in 
after years he came to be well known. His irrepressible wit, 
his inexhaustible energy, his enthusiasm for all good causes 
and his generosity in backing them, made him a natural 
centre for the intellectual activities of the place, and one 
venture in which he was then concerned has a niche of its 
own in the history of letters. 

The 'Scots Observer/ perhaps the most brilliant and 
vigorous weekly journal ever seen in this country, was largely 
Blaikie's creation, since it was he who induced W. E. Henley 
to leave London to edit it for his friend Fitzroy Bell. To one 
accustomed to the sobriety of the 'Athenaeum 5 and the 
'Spectator, 3 Henley's unrestrained expression of his likes and 
dislikes, especially the latter, was amusing enough, but the 
impression he left was less permanent and potent than that 
of work by sundry writers till then unknown : ' The Time 
Machine* by H. G. Wells; 'Barrack-Room Ballads' by 
Rudyard Kipling (Blaikie claimed Kipling as his find) ; 
poems by W. B. Yeats ; essays by Charles Whibley ; stories 
by Marriott Watson, Neil Munro and others whom Henley's 
genius had discovered or was training. Fearful that I might 
never come across them again, I cut out the contributions of 
Wells, Yeats and Kipling, and kept them in an envelope. 

Henley's own poems I quickly knew by heart, and on one 
awe-inspiring afternoon he took me to see the collection of 
R. T. Hamilton Bruce, then the most famous of its kind in 
Edinburgh. 'No art-criticism, please, 5 was Henley's sole 
condition, but since he discoursed to me in his inimitable, 
trenchant fashion, from the moment I joined him in the 
hansom to the moment when I got back to Blaikie's door, 
the caution was needless. His red beard, his crutches and 
his flaming energy so absorbed attention that the pictures, 
our ostensible objective, might hardly have existed. The 
Barbizon School was then regarded as a daring and, in some 
respects, a revolutionary innovation, yet all that remained 
in my memory was disappointment with the majority^ a 
vague interest in Monticelli, and a rather less vague pleasure 

121 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1889-1890 

in Corot's atmospheric compositions. Henley's talk on such 
things as the orchestration of poetry completely ousted any 
rival interest. 

The patriotic nationalism of the Scots amused him : I 
had found it mildly embarrassing. Insistence upon racial 
individuality, which has recently become such a disturbing 
factor in modern world-politics, was then unknown to us. 
While recognizing that each race had its own traditions and 
peculiarities, we English thought that civilization implied a 
search for points of contact rather than a stressing of differ 
ences. Yet in this most hospitable and jolly Edinburgh 
household I discovered that I was the hereditary foe. 'I 
hate all the English/ remarked one of the little girls at 
breakfast, C I will neverr neverr marrry any English perrson.' 
Blaikie too, with all his breadth of mind, was first and fore 
most a Scot, a true son of the Covenant. It was of the 
Covenanters that he talked all one bitter Sunday, as we 
tramped from Roslin on to the snow-clad Pentlands where 
the martyrs lie ; it was with their descendants of the Free 
Kirk that he took us to worship. When in reading c Wander 
ing Willie's Tale ' he came to the passage about the Perse 
cutors, he uttered their names with the vehemence of a still 
active hatred. The sympathy with Scottish feeling and 
history that I then acquired has never left me. I have 
always felt at home in Scotland, and time after time have 
owed much to the friendship and generosity of those who 
maintain the ancient national tradition. 

The night I came south to Preston for Christmas was 
marked by a curious experience. I was sitting alone reading 
by the dining-room fire, long after the rest of the household 
had gone to bed, when the silence was abruptly broken by 
a heavy footstep walking down the hall outside. Burglars? 
To whip out a match-box, light one of the candelabra on 
the mantelpiece, seize the poker and rush to the door, did 
not take me long. But the hall was empty ; so was the broad 
staircase, so were the locked and bolted servants' quarters. 

Ashamed of my panic I said nothing about it, not even 

122 



1 889- 1 890] RI VINGTONS 

to my brother, who arrived the next day. Once more I sat 
up late, exchanging news with him; once more I heard the 
heavy step go down the hall outside. I made no move. 
But my brother jumped up, saying, 'There's a man in the 
house/ and went through precisely the same motions as 
I had done the night before. Again the hall was empty. I 
was relieved to find my experience had been no hallucina 
tion. We were both puzzled. We had known the house 
from childhood ; every sound in it, as a rule, was familiar 
to us, and could be traced instinctively to its source. On 
the following evening we went out to a dance, and got back 
to the house at about half-past one. To avoid waking our 
grandfather, who was eighty and a light sleeper, we entered 
very softly, taking off our shoes. As we closed the door, 
with the bristles of the door-mat pricking through our thin 
socks, the heavy step started close by us in the darkness, and 
proceeded, as before, to pace the length of the halL I 
struck a match instantly, but, as before, the place was empty. 

On the next night, Christmas Eve, we were again startled, 
this time by my mother's voice, announcing that my grand 
father had been taken ill, and that the doctor must be sent 
for at once. Three days later the old gentleman died. His 
estate, some 50,000, did not amount to much when divided 
among his ten surviving children and their families; the 
house, which had so long been their recognized centre, was 
doomed to pass into the hands of strangers, the fine old 
furniture, portraits, plate and china to be dispersed. We 
could not help wondering whether the footsteps had not been 
some vague and ineffective premonition of the impending 
change. 

Many years later I found that my wife had had a some 
what similar experience. A distant relative, the last of her 
race, had died in London. In consequence, her old family 
house in Westmorland passed to my wife, who was sleeping 
there with her stepmother on the night before the funeral, 
while the body was on its way North. In the small hours 
they were both awakened by a gentle footstep outside the 

123 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1889-1890 

door, which my wife opened, thinking that the maid had 
come with their morning tea. But there was no one. Pre 
sently the footsteps entered the bedroom, walking this way 
and that while they lay and listened in terror. Was the old 
lady paying a last visit to her ancestral home ? Mice, of 
course, provide the materialist with an easy alternative; 
although, if that be the explanation, it is odd that the step 
has never been heard there again for forty years or more. 
The slow ponderous tread of the Preston visitant, at all 
events, can have had no such skittish origin. 1 

Returning to London after my grandfather's funeral, I 
found Rivingtons in the grip of influenza, which in 1890 was 
a serious, even a dangerous, novelty. Out of a staff of thirty- 
one, twenty-eight, including Mr. Rivington himself, were 
prostrated by the epidemic, and while, as one of the three 
survivors, I was trying to fill one gap after another, I was 
suddenly summoned to Cambridge to my brother's death 
bed. His appearance of health had been delusive. By his 
devotion to rowing he had overtaxed his strength (I now 
saw the force of our doctor's warning), and had contracted 
a wasting disease for which no remedy was then known. 
Influenza merely hastened a result which was inevitable. 

At the time this knowledge was no consolation. My 
brother Frank had not only been my companion in every 
kind of mischief, adventure and amusement, but was the one 
upon whom we all relied for steady, unselfish good sense. 
Many years later at Oxford, Dr. James told me that he was 
the best and nicest schoolboy he had ever known. And yet 
he was no prig, for his charity included, his humanity 
attracted, black sheep as well as schoolmasters and ordinary 

1 The evidence even for objective apparitions can be rather strong. During 
Commem' in the summer following, I lunched at Wadham with a family named 
Worthington, father, mother, son and daughters. They had all lived for fifteen 
years in a vicarage where a ghost made frequent and apparently quite meaning 
less appearances. Commonly identified with Abraham Cowley, it paid no 
attention to citations from that poet's works ; frightened nobody except newly 
arrived maidservants, and once had been unwise enough to venture out on to 
the lawn, whence the irreverent youngsters chased it with tennis-rackets 
through the net. 

124 



1889-1890] RIVINGTONS 

good fellows. To my mother in particular his sudden and 
unexpected death remained a grief hardly second even to 
my father's loss. She was now dependent upon me alone, 
and in poor health too, facts which had a considerable bear 
ing upon the course I followed during the next few years. 

She soon came up to London and settled down with me 
at 10 Kensington Crescent. The time I had previously 
spent every morning in practising water-colour was now 
taken up by the business of catching a Hammersmith bus, 
and getting to Waterloo Place. The week-ends alone were 
left, and by compromising with my devout mother, I could 
use most of Sunday for drawing, if I went to the evening 
service at S. Mathias. This I rather liked. One might get 
a distant glimpse of Pater, now very smart and top-hatted, 
and there was always a chance of compensation for the 
sermon in the shape of a processional hymn, with a swinging 
rhythm and a pleasant suggestion of far more ancient rituals. 

My mother's health remained a constant anxiety. She 
worked energetically for the C.O.S. under the direction of 
my cousin Harry Toynbee, but was never for long out of 
the hands of doctors and specialists. My second anxiety 
was a change in the situation at Rivingtons. When laid up 
with influenza, Mr. Rivington realized that at fifty-five he 
was no longer quite a young man, and that any long illness 
would have a most detrimental effect upon the business, and 
therewith upon his family fortunes. Butler, nominally the 
second in command, regarded these apprehensions lightly. 
A scholar who had been an intimate friend of Matthew 
Arnold, he lived in a world of his own, occupied just then 
by the 'Alpine Journal,' by his new text of Dante, and by 
a comic antipathy towards his Oxford namesake, my friend 
the Bursar of Brasenose. Although these two scholars had 
never met, the constant confusion between their person 
alities, and their works, had led to something like impati 
ence, on one side at least, and each was careful when naming 
his children to see that the unhappy identity should not 
recur. 

"5 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1889-1890 

In the previous autumn Francis Rivington had told me 
with some amusement how Horatio Bottomley had called, 
fur overcoat, big cigar and all, to ask him if he would sell 
Rivingtons to the Hansard Publishing Union, which 
Bottomley was then promoting. 'Certainly/ said my 
cousin, 'the price will be two hundred thousand pounds.' 
'Will you take half in shares?' was the next inquiry; e No, 
I'm afraid I must ask for cash,' the reply. 'Ah! Mr. 
Rivington/ said Horatio, 'then I fear we shan't be able to 
do business,' and so went on his way. 

Now my cousin's mood had altered. Some means of 
stabilizing his interests and getting relief from the every 
day labour of business would have to be found. I was not 
therefore wholly surprised when he announced to me one 
day that he had decided to turn the business into a private 
limited company, with H. A. Moncrieff and myself (this was 
indeed a surprise) as its Managing Directors. Before doing 
so, however, he intended to offer the business for sale to 
Messrs. Longman. If they were willing to pay the price 
he would ask (and they were the only publishing firm in 
London who could do so), that would enable him to retire 
at once, and take the holiday to which after thirty-eight 
years of hard work he felt himself entitled. My interests, in 
any case, would be safeguarded. 

The amazing prospect of a managing directorship at the 
age of twenty-one, in a prosperous business which I was 
beginning to understand, with colleagues whom I thoroughly 
liked, vanished almost at once. Longmans had no sooner 
checked a few of the copyright valuations than they decided 
to acquire a concern which not only marched with their 
own, but also might serve as a buffer against competition, 
particularly from the rival educational business which my 
cousin Septimus had recently started, under the title of 
Percival and Co., and which became, in time, the existing 
Rivington firm. The financial part of the transfer was 
quickly arranged, and in due course I brought back to 
Waterloo Place a cheque for 30,000 as deposit on the 

126 



1889-1890] RIVINGTONS 

purchase price. But my own future was not so easily settled. 
Longmans very naturally wished, and intimated, that my 
little specialist knowledge of educational publishing should 
not be made available for any rival concern, such as Percival 
and Co. Yet the partners had sons of their own whose future 
prospects, they feared, might suffer if I were admitted to 
any prominent place in their establishment at Paternoster 
Row. They were willing to take me over with the rest of 
the Rivington staff at my existing salary, but only on the 
condition that I was not to ask later for an improvement 
as regards payment or position. Any suggestion as to 
that must come from their side, and there could, of 
course, be no question of any share in the business in 
after years. 

I have sometimes wondered whether a little more tact and 
experience in negotiation than I then possessed, might not 
have reduced these restrictions to a workable arrangement. 
Had I guessed what the anxieties and disappointments of 
the next seven years were to be, I would have accepted 
the proposals, restrictions and all, and made educational 
publishing my business in life. To my advisers at the time, 
however, Longmans 5 condition seemed too rigorous, and 
Mr. Rivington sent me to his solicitor with a letter stating 
that, if I wished to embark in any suitable business, a 
sum of from 5000 to 7000, either without interest 
or at a nominal rate, would be available for me as 
capital. Educational publishing, by the understanding with 
Longmans, was specially excepted : otherwise I might look 
where I pleased, only, as the solicitor breezily explained, 
'The business must be a real business; not art, of course, 
or any nonsense of that sort.* 

My cousin was leaving England almost at once for a tour 
round the world, and would be away for about a year. 
Before he left, he introduced me at the Albemarle Club to 
a big, suave gentleman, Mr. Edward Hanson, who was 
understood to be looking out for a partner in the Ballantyne 
Press, of which he was the chief proprietor. It was quickly 

127 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1889-1890 

arranged that I should go to 14 Tavlstock Street towards 
the end of August, to learn to become a printer. 

Two diversions intervened. A fortnight at Newby Bridge 
provided proof that poultry will eat your trout, if you leave 
them on the bank; that a pike when hooked in a salmon 
river will fight and leap like a salmon ; also that if you get 
up at four in the morning you may attract a salmon with a 
worm. There followed another wonderful fortnight at North 
Berwick with the Blaikies, when under the eye of the 
famous Ben Sayers and the criticism of my caddie, after 
wards famous too as Jack White, I was introduced to the 
baffling mysteries and fascination of golf. Towards the 
end of my stay, Blaikie asked me whether I would come to 
him in Edinburgh and join the Constable firm. I did not 
consider myself irrevocably bound to Mr. Hanson, but my 
mother's health and residence in London made a move to 
Scotland seem impracticable, so that I treated the offer more 
lightly than I should have done. The friendship and com 
panionship of a man like Blaikie were not likely to be found 
again, and my first experiment in active life was already, in 
reality, a fiasco. 



128 



CHAPTER VIII 
THE BALLANTYNE PRESS 

(1890-1892) 

Life as a compositor and proof-reader; unemployment; study 
at South Kensington; Edward Arnold; visit to Holland and 
Belgium; art, cricket and a thunderstorm; return to Balian- 
tyne's as book-keeper; Covent Garden characters; Ricketts 
and Shannon befriend me; efforts at etching; return to 
publishing. 

How complete the fiasco did not immediately become 
apparent. With the glamour of golf now added to the 
glamour of fishing, I started work gaily enough as a com 
positor in Tavistock Street. Collimore, the clicker of my 
companionship, was a pleasant fellow; the other com 
positors, though sometimes rough, always grubby and ill- 
paid (Ballantyne's was a non-union house) , were good fellows 
too, with no more than the common faults of the British 
workman, and certainly all his virtues. It was touching to 
see the consideration everybody showed for Mr. D., a 
broken-down educated gentleman, who in his spare moments 
would talk to me of books, Keats being his special favourite. 
Poor old dear! He could only earn about i8s. a week. 
Happily he was discovered by some relative a year or two 
later, and rescued from his pitiable state. What, too, had 
been the history of A., the fiery, red-nosed and universally 
dreaded proof-reader, who one day startled me by a scathing 
criticism of Thomas Love Peacock? A printing-office is the 
natural catch-pit for literary derelicts. Memorable also was 
our annual wayzgoose, when with flaunting asters in every 
buttonhole we drove in a big wagonette (I blushed in 
prominence by the driver) to Hadleigh Woods, caroused 
modestly, and at the last in the deepening twilight formed a 

129 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1890-1892 

search-party to find a dear maudlin old Irishman, who 
had staggered away unnoticed to sleep it off in the under 
growth. 

Meanwhile I was learning to roll my shirt-sleeves up to 
my arm-pits, to pick type neatly from the filthy and some 
times verminous cases, to set it and distribute it with reason 
able precision, to earn thereby seven or eight shillings a 
week for the benefit of the 'ship/ and to speak the language 
of rny fellows. This habit was not easily cast off when the 
day's work was done. I had often to think quite hard before 
talking in ordinary society : indeed to this day my language 
is apt to exhale a whiff of Co vent Garden. The squalor and 
isolation in which I worked did not at first depress me : they 
seemed essential preliminaries to better things. But as the 
weeks lengthened into months, and the heads of the firm had 
apparently forgotten my existence, I began to grow anxious. 
When Christmas came I ventured to ask what the next stage 
was to be. I could be a 'reader ' was the reply. 

In due course I was settled in a box with an intelligent 
gamin of a reading-boy, and masses of proofs, ranging from 
'Home Chimes' to a mighty work on Fungology. This, 
owing to the illegibility of the author's manuscript and the 
recondite classicalism of his scientific vocabulary, had 
bothered even the formidable Mr. A. Unfortunately the 
management so stinted our supply of gas that we had to 
work in semi-darkness, and by the end of three months I 
had strained my excellent eyesight. Yet as case-work had 
taught me the cost and technical details of type-setting, so 
reading taught me the cost and mystery of printers' correc 
tions, that eternal source of suspicion and dispute between 
those who write books and those who produce them. 

Authors and publishers do not always know how much a 
good printer's reader may do for them. Quite apart from 
his detection of misprints, the reader is the assessor who 
settles what is a fair allowance for the time involved in 
making corrections, as opposed (it may be) to the demands 
of a foreman who, in the interest of his 'ship, 5 will perhaps 

130 



18901892] THE BALLANTYNE PRESS 

charge six hours* work as eight hours, if he thinks the claim 
will pass muster. 1 

The commercial side of proof-reading naturally brought 
me into frequent contact with Mushet, who kept the firm's 
accounts. To my surprise I found that this tall, grave and 
capable gentleman had been serving the firm for eight or 
nine years, with exactly the same promise of advancement 
as myself, but had got no further than a high stool in the 
counting-house. He was beginning to despair of any move 
being made to reinforce the existing management, and I, 
knowing his sound abilities, became almost equally desper 
ate. If his promotion to a junior partnership could be thus 
indefinitely postponed, what could my chance be? I found 
out quickly enough. When I reported that I had more or 
less mastered the business of proof-reading, and would like 
to learn some other phase of the craft, it was suggested that 
I had better stay where I was for the present. I was in too 
much of a hurry to get on. 

Clearly the benignant Fortune who had promoted me 
from Canterbury to Eton, from Eton to Oxford, and thence 
to an honourable place in the Rivington business, had grown 
tired of her mediocre favourite., and had dropped him in a 
cul-de-sac. There was nothing for it but to retire politely, 
join the ranks of the unemployed, and look about for 
another opening. 

London publishers then, though competing keenly with 
each other, formed a singularly close corporation, presenting 
no gap into which I could conveniently step. One firm, 
otherwise interesting and interested, was put off (Oh the 
irony of it!), because the Rivingtons were High Church; I 
must therefore have acquired leanings towards the Scarlet 
Woman. The Longmans very kindly offered me a position 
in their New York house which, on my mother's account, I 
was obliged to decline. A firm of more dubious repute 
seemed anxious to secure my assistance, but wilted when I 
asked, before committing myself, if I might see their copy- 

1 This system, I now hear, is by no means universal. 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1890-1892 

right valuations. Hither and thither I tramped and in 
quired, but could hear of nobody who had the least need of 
my valuable services and months of experience. 

Being thus cut off from any opportunity of resuming work 
as a publisher or a printer, it was necessary to do or learn 
something else. Art naturally suggested itself, but its open 
pursuit was barred by the family solicitor's ruling. That I 
could not disregard without risking the loss of my cousin's 
goodwill, and therewith impairing my mother's future pro 
spects. Her income was insufficient for comfortable living, 
without either some help from me, or annual drawings from 
capital; the course which we had ultimately to adopt. But 
a ticket for the Art Library at South Kensington Museum 
could not reasonably be held as an infringement of the family 
embargo, and in hours of enforced leisure I could make 
drawings from the casts as others did. The method of most 
of the students, their timid elaborate modelling with stump 
and charcoal, seemed an extravagant waste of time. If a 
cast or statue was to be drawn, two hours, or thereabouts, 
was a sufficient allowance: so each spare morning was 
devoted to a time-drawing in pencil of a new subject, Spare 
afternoons were spent in the Library, browsing over picture- 
books,, or copying Charles Keene. Taking a small sketch 
book with me as I went to and fro, I practised making notes 
effaces and incidents in the streets. These resulted in a few 
compositions which I ventured to send to 'Punch/ They 
were returned of course, but with a note so polite that the 
refusal seemed a compliment. I came across these old 
drawings a short time ago. One is just tolerable: the 
remainder show little humour and no real observation. 

In June 1890, before I could carry these experiments 
further, I heard from Charles Knight Clowes that a young 
publisher, Edward Arnold, was about to move from the 
City to Bedford Street, and might require some help. 
Arnold proved very pleasant and frank, could offer me no 
salary, but would be glad if I could come and help him to 
clear off the arrears occasioned by Ms removal. I set to 

132 



1890-1892] THE BALLANTYNE PRESS 

work at once In Bedford Street, explained to him, I fear, 
how he ought to manage his business, and towards the end 
of July saw the mountains of occupation dwindling, dwind 
ling to the vanishing point. In a week or two I should 
evidently be out of a job once more. The emergency recalled 
a remark of my uncle Richard Holmes that, of all places 
within easy distance, Holland and Belgium were the best 
worth seeing. My friend Cripps was willing to join me in a 
little tour, so I was able to tell Arnold, to his evident relief, 
that as business was now so quiet I would take the oppor 
tunity of going abroad. 

We had 20 each to travel with, and on that sum, after 
consulting Messrs. Gaze, we proposed to 'do ' Bruges, Ghent, 
Brussels, Malines, Antwerp, Rotterdam, The Hague, Delft, 
Leyden, Haarlem and Amsterdam. And we c did ' them all, 
with 1 to spare, by mapping out our route for each day 
with transatlantic method, but allowing a margin always for 
prolonged enthusiasm, sketching, and other causes of delay. 
Antwerp, indeed, was the only place which we rather 
scamped, because the hotel proved so dear and its Vesuvio 
so eruptive. Our flight from it, jolting and swaying over the 
cobble-stones to the station, provided us with all the anxieties 
and sensations which we had missed on our Channel crossing. 
Elsewhere we missed little or nothing which Baedeker held 
to be worth seeing. 

So long as one is young enough to carry one's own suit-case, 
and to put up now and then with petty discomforts, travel 
ling in forma pauperis is the best of adventures, and the most 
instructive. Of course the guest at a Palace or an Embassy 
meets famous personages, but the attention due to them has 
to be subtracted from the store available for studying the 
country and its works of art. In even worse case is the visitor 
who passes from a grand hotel in one place to a grand hotel, 
exactly like it, in another. The hotel becomes the inevitable 
centre of his little limited world. The car from its door takes 
him with the same impartiality to the Forum or the Louvre; 
to Pompeii, the Acropolis or the Pyramids, returning him in 

*33 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1890-1892 

due course to the same cosmopolitan table d'hdte. The super- 
efficient hotel service shields him from real contact with the 
people of the country : its information bureau saves him 
from the trouble and the thrills of exploration. Admitting 
its many conveniences for those who have definite business 
in a place, its cleanliness and its admirable plumbing, the 
hotel de luxe has something to answer for as a contributory 
to international misunderstanding. 

The impecunious tourist, in sheer self-defence, has to 
observe and to learn. He has to find his way for himself, 
and so comes across much that is hidden from the rich, as 
they are whirled, patronizing and unseeing, from one show- 
place to the next. Having no interpreter he must struggle 
with the language, make the acquaintance of ordinary folk, 
eat and drink as they do, and find every day fresh little 
adventures among them. Having no more than the stars in 
his Baedeker to guide him, his reactions to each new spec 
tacle are unbiassed. If some constellations disappoint, a 
single asterisk now and then will prove a veritable Sirius. 
He travels the farthest who travels alone or nearly so. 

Our outstanding sensations began with the Michelangelo 
Madonna at Bruges, and The Adoration of the Lamb, concluding 
with the works of Vermeer then almost unknown in 
England, the single example hanging high in the corner of 
a bedroom at Windsor. Among places, Rotterdam with its 
huge half-dismantled windmills and tumble-down suburban 
watersides, like a series of Rembrandt drawings, and Leyden 
with its graceful Stadthuis, its moated bastions, gave quite 
unexpected pleasure. Rotterdam's broad handsome main 
street now runs where the black Cool Vest reflected its 
great windmill; the suburbs are buried under vast blocks 
of workmen's dwellings. The Stadthuis at Leyden has 
been burned down, and such traces of seventeenth-century 
Holland as remain are hemmed in and overshadowed by 
the stark erections of modern commerce. 

We learned something of one aspect of the Belgian char 
acter during an evening spent with a chance-met Brussels 

134 



1890-1892] THE BALLANTYNE PRESS 

carpenter, in various whitewashed estaminets^ where itinerant 
vendors came and went with evening papers, hard-boiled 
eggs, and trays of pallid little cooked crabs. Our companion 
proved a charming fellow, hospitable, sensible, temperate, 
and taught us that the prosperity of the country was probably 
based far more securely on such men as he, than on the 
astuteness of Leopold and his Congo financiers. Of merry, 
comfortable Holland we were given a different impression. 
At Scheveningen we lighted upon a first-rate concert of 
classical music, combined with an entertainment for the 
veterans (mostly rather bibulous) of the Dutch-Belgian war, 
which roused a casual Dutch acquaintance to bewail the 
decay of the national character, owing to a too easy pro 
sperity. To us the Dutch were invariably kind, from small 
services such as proffering a chair if one stopped to draw by 
the wayside, to more serious help, as when an Amsterdam 
official made so gross an overcharge that we went indig 
nantly to a police-court. There, after begging us, amid 
universal merriment, to discard our Dutch and our diction 
ary and to plead in French, the authorities heard us most 
patiently and promised redress. Unluckily we had to leave 
before justice could actually be done. 

Again, at The Hague, we happened to stop to watch some 
cricketers playing single- wicket in the foot-high grass of the 
Park. Presently one of the flannelled young Dutchmen 
came forward, and invited us so warmly to take a hand that 
it seemed churlish to refuse. They had enjoyed playing an 
English team, and would like more practice. We were the 
less unwilling to risk our national credit, since the bowler 
was sending down harmless slows. But when, under that 
pleasant delusion, I went to the wicket, they took that 
simple bowler off, and put on a big fast left-hander, whose 
balls were none the easier to play because they stuck for an 
instant as they pitched in the hay-grass. Luckily he missed 
the wicket, and at last I got a long hop which I cut hard to 
point. The ball pitched a few yards off, and rose vertically 
from the grass with an odd crack, followed by the bald head 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1890-1892 

of a stout Dutchman who had been lying invisible, close to 
the wicket. He rubbed his skull with a good-natured grin 
and then settled down again to his sleep. Terrified of repeat 
ing the damage, I ran out at the next ball, lifted it well into 
the country, and then insisted on taking a part in the game 
which involved no danger of homicide. 

At Leyden alone did we meet with a real scare. The sight 
of canals boiling with good-sized fish led us to purchase a 
cheap rod and local tackle; thin green twine and a rusty 
hook. But when we reached the waterside after dinner, all 
was still. As we tried alternately to hook some rare and 
languid nibbler, we noticed a strange phenomenon. Far 
away in the north-west a gigantic cloud was swelling up, its 
top just catching the light of the sunken sun. Such a tower 
ing colossus of the sky I have never seen again. Before we 
reached the hotel remote mutterings of thunder began, 
which developed into flashes and crashes of steadily increas 
ing intensity. By midnight the detonations had grown to 
nerve-racking violence and the atmospheric oppression made 
bedclothes intolerable, yet the focus was still some distance 
away. With most unpleasing certainty the bombardment 
crept steadily nearer and nearer, each shock a trifle worse 
than the last, until, at about two in the morning, the climax 
came overhead, the blaze and the bang being simultaneous 
and terrific. Outside the lightning illumined a dazzling wall 
of water; within the whole staff was afoot with fire-buckets, 
for the hotel was one of the tallest buildings in the place. 
Then, to our fervent relief, there came a just perceptible 
interval between the light and sound of the discharge, and 
for the next four hours with the same portentous delibera 
tion the menace moved away. We were afterwards told by 
our host, with sly Dutch humour, that when the countryfolk 
are caught in the open by these storms they lie flat on the 
earth, lest they should make targets for the lightning, being 
perhaps the tallest things for miles around. 

Our tour concluded with a rough crossing from Rotter 
dam, enlivened by a cabin-mate who from the opposite 

136 



1890-1892] THE BALLANTYNE PRESS 

bunk expounded, with a strong American accent, the true 
place of Herbert Spencer as a philosopher, between 
paroxysms even more violent than ours. On reaching 
London with a much enlarged experience of pictures, and 
a number of little pencil-studies, I reported to Edward 
Arnold, and found myself unexpectedly welcome. Work 
had once more accumulated during my absence. Would I 
come to him again and accept a retaining fee of 10 a 
month? Naturally I was delighted. But when December 
approached, and the season's books had been successfully 
launched, it was evident that there was little left for me to 
do. I could not expect payment for idleness, and foresaw 
that in another month I should once more be out of a job. 
The loss in money could be borne, for my cousin had very 
generously intimated that he would make up my earnings 
to the amount of my Rivington salary until I was in settled 
employment, but the continued discouragement was less 
tolerable. 

Oppressed by this anxiety, I was walking along the 
Embankment during my luncheon-hour when I ran into an 
old acquaintance, Mushet of the Ballantyne Press. He was 
on his way back from a visit to the President, then moored 
close by, to return his R.N.V.R. rifle. Having at last given 
up all hope of promotion in Tavistock Street, he had pur 
chased some land in Tasmania, and was" going there in 
search of a healthier and more active life. Nobody had 
been appointed, as yet, to take his place, and his salary had 
been 150. I walked straight up to Ballantyne's, offered 
my services, and was engaged on the spot as book-keeper 
from the beginning of the New Year, 1892, at a salary of 
120. Mushet's venture did not, I believe, turn out 
fortunately. Later he volunteered for the South African 
War, and in the course of it succumbed to typhoid fever. 
My place at Arnold's was filled by my friend Desborough 
Walford, with whose clever mother, the novelist, and charm 
ing family, I spent some pleasant week-ends in their fine 
old house at Ilford. 

J 37 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1890-1892 

Another memory is of revisiting Stratton and Bude with 
my mother, a memory now grown faint except for one silly 
adventure. Canon Bone, his sisters at Stratton, the Carnsews 
at Poughill, were all hospitality, and with Johnny Carnsew, 
afterwards killed in South Africa, I had a day's rough shoot 
ing in the rain, using a borrowed muzzle-loading 12-bore. 
Carnsew, knowing the gun, did the loading. At one point 
I was just crossing a high-banked hedge when some birds 
(they were rarities that day) got up. My first barrel missed 
fire, my second produced an explosion which knocked me 
clean over backwards into a ditch full of water, with a 
hammer of the gun through my never attractive nose. Dis 
tracted, no doubt, by my talk, Johnny had put both charges 
into the left barrel. As the expedition bordered upon poach 
ing, we had to patch the mess up privately, and trust to luck 
and lying. Both held good. 

Though a stool in a Covent Garden counting-house would 
not satisfy an ordinary man's commercial ambition, the post 
which I had thus, quite accidentally, obtained was not 
without mitigating features. I was at last really earning 
something by doing the common hack-work of the world, 
with no help of privilege or patronage ; in humble surround 
ings, yet with an unexpected variety of duties and visitors 
to keep me interested. Had I only been able to add figures 
more quickly and correctly, the actual book-keeping would 
have been simple enough. As it was, when the firm's 
accounts were audited at the end of six months, I was found 
to be c out' to the extent of 2,100, xos. id. The missing 
pounds were discovered almost at once, the ten shillings on 
the following day, but the penny defied them all, until the 
cheerful, sensible junior partner, from Scotland, produced 
the sum from his pocket, and saved the expense of further 
auditing. I was interested to find that this business of 
entering and adding figures became a routine, making so 
little demand upon the other parts of the mind as to 
leave me quite fresh at the end of the week to start 
drawing or anything else. Indeed the monotony of the 

138 



1890-1892] THE BALLANTYNE PRESS 

work appeared, by contrast, to be an actual stimulus to 
creation. 

The counting-house occupied the ground floor, being 
separated from the pavement of the market square only by 
a big window. At the end of it, a small partition enclosed 
the busy manager, Mr. Charles Me Call (twin-brother, in 
his lighter mood, to Moroni's Lawyer), who in almost any 
other firm would have been a partner, so completely was 
the business under his control. At the desks with me sat 
the clerks, George Massey, a quaint young Scot, and Charles 
Stevens, a merry dog, who had once been manservant to 
Godwin the architect, and so was on familiar terms with 
Whistler and others of that group. The Whistler tradition 
was strong in the office, which was stiUlittered with proofs 
of The Gentle Art of making Enemies ' and full of memories 
of his visits and conversation. 

Below us rumbled and quivered the main machine-room, 
so crowded with moving metal that to walk through it safely 
needed experience, as on the days of official inspection it 
needed a big lunch for the inspector, so that he could see 
no further than the door. Cut out of a second machine- 
room behind us lay a dismal little waiting-room, illumined 
obscurely through the ground glass of the partition, and 
warmed by a gas-fire which, for economy, was never lighted. 
The record for endurance in it, fifty-three minutes, was held 
in my time by the representative of an American firm. On 
the floor above, Mr. Hanson enjoyed the use of a chair and 
a desk reputed to have belonged to Sir Walter Scott, of 
whom a muzzy portrait, very much 'after ' Raeburn, hung 
over the fireplace, as a further reminder of the Ballantyne 
tradition. 

The hero of the place was disclosed to me only by accident. 
A crowd gathered round our door, one day, with the 
message, 'A man is killing his wife in the market. Will 
Mr. Smith come, please ? ' In a few moments a smallish, 
delicate-looking machine-minder, whom I had found the 
quietest and most gentle of his kind, trudged out, still 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1890-1892 

aproned, meek and bareheaded. The crowd formed up 
reverently in his wake, and off they all went to the scene 
of trouble. In private life, it appeared, Smith was a well- 
known prize-fighter, and more feared by the roughs of the 
neighbourhood than any official guardians of the peace. A 
less laudable diversion was afforded by two very well-known 
society ladies. They dabbled rather prominently in litera 
ture, among other things, and at one time drove together 
regularly to Covent Garden, to pick up a tall young com 
mercial traveller from a neighbouring office. For a while 
he blossomed out in their carriage, bibulous and ludicrous, 
with inappropriate top-hat and ill-fitting high collar ; then 
he was seen no more. 

From the cloistered interior of a publishing firm one gets 
but a partial view of the world of letters. Only success, 
complete or potential, gains admittance there; and of 
successes, only those in the particular line of business which 
the publisher runs. In that select environment I had inter 
viewed authors frequently, as I had called officially on some 
of the more famous University figures. But until I came to 
the Ballantyne Press, the half had not been told me. There, 
all sorts and conditions of writers called to inquire about 
their proofs, from the editors of sporting papers, loud of 
voice and lurid of tongue, to Cardinal Vaughan, as prince- 
like in courtesy as in appearance. 

Grant Allen I particularly remember. He came with 
'something very important/ and would see no one but the 
manager. Mr. Me Call was out. But a few minutes' reflec 
tion in the twilight of our famous waiting-room was enough. 
Grant Allen emerged and decided after all to unfold his 
great business to me. He had translated the * Attis, ' which, 
as he very kindly explained, was a Latin poem by Catullus. 
To prove my interest I ventured to ask (since a prose version 
seemed no occasion for trumpets) whether he had managed 
to reproduce the original metre? He became quite snappy. 
Henley too would sometimes hoist himself in, genial as ever, 
but worn and battered, I thought, compared with his Edin- 

140 



1890-1892] THE BALLANTYNE PRESS 

burgh days. More vivid still, and more pleasant, since it 
left no thought of his physical handicap, is the vision of his 
great Viking head and red beard protruding above sturdy 
forearms and rolled-up shirt-sleeves, as he leaned over his 
Westminster window-sill in the sunshine, at peace, for once, 
with the world. 

The messenger of destiny for me was no such conspicuous 
figure, but a well-dressed little man, a Mr. Riley, whom I 
never saw again. He called at the office to guarantee and 
to get an estimate for a publication termed 'The Dial, 3 the 
work of two artist friends. To explain the scale and char 
acter of the production, he exhibited to me a large woodcut 
by Reginald Savage. Its power, and its surprising compre 
hension of Diirer, excited my keen admiration. At the 
mention of Diirer 's name my visitor gave a perceptible jump, 
discussed the project with me most frankly, and was sent in 
due course the estimate he required. This was acknow 
ledged a day later by a new figure, frail-looking, with a 
pointed auburn beard and wavy hair : a Swinburne turned 
Little Minister one might think, seeing the top-hat, black 
Inverness cape and grave demeanour. It was Charles 
Ricketts, looking then much as he looked some forty years 
later, when I saw him for the last time. He brought with 
him further material for 'The Dial, 5 and after settling the 
details of production, invited me rather shyly, in Shannon's 
name and his own, to come and see them in The Vale. 

He had given me careful directions, so that in due course 
I found the turning from King's Road, with its dirty white 
posts, and groped my way in darkness, down a slope, to a 
low house on the right among a few decrepit trees. Ricketts 
welcomed me at the door, led me up to be introduced to 
handsome, curly-haired Shannon, and then began to talk 
as I had never heard mortal talk before. Titchener at 
Brasenose had been brilliant, but his wit and eloquence 
seemed almost pedantic in comparison with the flood oi 
lively comment on art and letters which now enchanted me. 
Incidentally I learned something about their house, which 

141 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1890-1892 

had been Whistler's, their neighbours the De Morgans, their 
likes and many dislikes, and their own joint plans for the 
future. They showed me the work on' which they were 
engaged, the things they were collecting, and when they 
had thus done the honours of the place, they turned to what 
I did myself. I had tried to draw but had made nothing of 
it. Then I must bring my stuff the next Saturday after 
noon for them to see. 

I did so, quaking. The two looked gravely through my 
poor bundle of little water-colours, now and then setting one 
aside. Then Ricketts spoke. c Your things are quite accom 
plished, but you don't know what you're doing. This, for 
example, might have been a scrap by Whistler : that pile is 
worthless. You must learn what drawing means, and take 
up etching.' I protested that I knew nothing of the process. 
Ricketts insisted on showing me. From the back room he 
produced a copper-plate, poured some liquid ground over it, 
and sketched my head and shoulders. The plate was 
roughly bitten in my presence and the portrait revealed. 
I should like to have had a print of it as a reminder. 
Ricketts looked doubtfully at Shannon. 'It's not worth 
keeping,' said Shannon ruthlessly, and it was destroyed 
before my regretful eyes. 

Nevertheless the encouragement of these brilliant beings 
gave a new zest to life. Buying some small plates and 
materials, I looked forward from my ledgers to the next 
week-end when I could make the great experiment. On the 
Saturday I etched one zinc plate from a sketch made on 
Wimbledon Common; on the Sunday I did a second, a 
memory of a machine-room interior. This last proved 
coarse and stupid: the Wimbledon study looked more 
promising, and was so well received at The Vale that I 
returned happy and determined to try something more 
elaborate. The next Saturday, I remember well, proved 
light and warm ; I could see to draw detail, and the acid bit 
happily on the copper. The little view near Rotterdam 
came out just as I wished, except that some foreground 

142 



1890-1892] THE BALLANTYNE PRESS 

weeds made a blot on the design. When I took the plate to 
The Vale, Ricketts was quite excited, and insisted that I 
must go on etching as hard as I could, although what I had 
done was in part an accident. It might be years before I did 
anything so good again; It was. 

My efforts to follow his advice were assisted, in some ways, 
by my mother's change of residence. She had never been 
well in London, and decided therefore to move to Richmond 
Hill, where, by the exceptional skill of Dr. John Williamson, 
she was restored to a measure of health such as no London 
specialist had dared to prognosticate. Richmond Hill was 
too remote for anyone earning his daily bread so intensively 
as I did. In consequence, a little panelled second floor at 
No. 3 Cowley Street, Westminster (now No. 2), for some five 
years accommodated my person and books; a tiny attic 
above housed luggage, canvases and an etching-press. 

Meanwhile, at Ballantyne's, I was finding it unwise to be 
zealous overmuch. I got into one trouble by reporting an 
overcharge of 30 per cent, on some paper, and endangering 
some private commission: then into still worse trouble by 
putting into practice one of Mr. Hanson's own maxims, c If 
a publisher shows you a manuscript, never let it leave your 
hands till you have got permission to estimate for it.' 

My duties involved not only the making out of publishers 3 
accounts, but also the collecting of them, with the settlement 
of any minor disputes over details. Some publishers were 
notorious hagglers. I can remember returning from a long 
tussle with Messrs. X, and being received quite graciously 
by the management because, in an account running to well 
over three figures, I had succeeded in settling with a rebate 
of no more than 35. 6d. 

On the fatal occasion I was collecting the account of 
Messrs. Longman, one of the most precious of the firm's 
customers ; they paid cash quarterly. While the cheque was 
being got ready for me, I took the opportunity of looking in 
upon Mr. C. J. Longman, who had befriended me during 
the Rivington transfer, to ask him whether there happened 

143 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1890-1892 

to be any new work for which Ballantyne's could estimate. 
'Well/ said he, 'there is Chisholm's Gazetteer/ indicating a 
great bundle of brown paper on the floor. I thanked him 
warmly, hoisted the heavy cube on to my shoulder, collected 
the cheque, and staggered to Ludgate Hill and an omnibus. 
When, at last, I dumped the thing down on the floor at 
Tavistock Street, Mr. Hanson happened to be talking with 
the manager, and naturally asked what I had brought in. 
I explained ; hoping for a little commendation, since it was 
a 1500 job. But he remarked, very coldly indeed, that he 
had heard of the book, and had intended to go and see about 
it himself next week. I was never again allowed to collect 
Longmans' account. 

Progress, in fact, was strictly barred; though I was 
sufficiently trusted to be left in charge of the whole Press, 
and of the work for the far larger printing establishment in 
Edinburgh, for a fortnight in the summer when the prin 
cipals were taking their holiday. But the barrage as regards 
myself was not unreasonable : another aspirant, my friend 
Service, possessing both solid private means and business 
capacity, had arrived in the office. Having acquired this 
junior string to his financial bow, Mr. Hanson, being natur 
ally so politic that he avoided any final decision, could now 
conveniently dispense with me. Hence when Mr. John C. 
Nimmo, one of his publisher clients, needed assistance, my 
name was warmly recommended to his notice, and I returned 
to my original trade. My place as book-keeper fell to 
Service ; he soon became as little satisfied with his prospects 
as I had been ; joined the firm of Seeley and Co., and raised 
it to the position which it now holds. In after years, when 
Mr. Hanson began to feel the need of assistance, I could not 
sympathize much with his expressions of regret that none of 
his young men had been content to stay with him. 



144 



CHAPTER IX 

JOHN C. NIMMO 
(1892-1896) 

Mr. Nimmo and his methods; 'remainders,* the 'Border 
Edition * of Scott; William Strang; our American colleagues; 
Sandy S ; Lord Ronald Gower; J. A. Symonds; attempt 
to work out a theory of painting ; companions in Westminster ; 
holidays at Wasdale and elsewhere; lost sketch-books; the 
Theatre and the Opera ; business difficulties ; resignation. 

MOST business men, in some sense or other, lead double lives. 
My life between 1892 and 1896 became definitely tripartite. 
At Cowley Street I breakfasted, dined, read, etched, painted, 
boxed and slept. At King William Street I hearkened to the 
voice of John C. Nimmo, made estimates, read proofs and 
MS S., and wrote letters innumerable to printers, binders, 
booksellers, authors, artists and Americans, receiving the 
sum of 250 per annum for doing so. At The Vale, every 
Friday night, I sat in silent awe while the most brilliant talk 
I had ever heard darted, flashing and sparkling, over a world 
of art and letters quite unknown to my lodgings or my office. 
Years passed before I could establish any sort of relation 
between my earth-bound mentality and this empyrean of 
swift and lively spirits. Meanwhile I was thankful for per 
mission to remain an unhelpful parasitic attache, an obscuie 
and lightless satellite, for mind and body were fully occupied 
in saving myself from becoming a burden upon my mother, 
whose means were already straitened. Moreover I was 
myself steadily sinking to the status of a poor relation, a 
favourite phrase with certain well-to-do connexions whom 
I could not altogether avoid. If I sometimes worked 
rather too hard, I did so, I believe, quite as much from 
the hope of disappointing those benevolent anticipations 

145 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1892-1896 

of failure and dependence as from any more creditable 
motive. 

Since the firm of John C. Nimmo, like the Ballantyne 
Press, is now a thing of the past, a short explanation of its 
history and nature may be excused. 

John Gumming Nimmo, though a queer mixture of con 
trary qualities, was not a bad fellow. Genial and testy, 
shrewd and simple, sharp and lavish, by some easily flattered, 
to others incurably obstinate, he owed his modest success 
rather to energy and good luck than to methodical fore 
thought. Some few years before I met him, he had left the 
Edinburgh firm of Nimmo, Hay and Mitchell to set up 
independently in London, in partnership with Mr. Bain, 
becoming sole owner of the business when Mr. Bain accepted 
an official appointment at Toronto. His method was dia 
metrically opposed to that of the Rivingtons. The Riving- 
tons were content with steady returns, arriving automatically 
year after year ; Nimmo made and took his profit at once. 
The Rivingtons neither sought nor required support from 
the booksellers: Nimmo relied largely upon booksellers' 
help and advice for shaping his own course. 

But the booksellers whom Nimmo consulted were not the 
retailers of new books, then almost ruined by foolish com 
petition in giving discounts to the public. His intimates 
were the second-hand booksellers, a relatively learned and 
prosperous body, in days when men had still the money and 
the space for libraries. Being the authorities whom col 
lectors of books frequented and consulted, the experience of 
such booksellers could be of considerable value to any pub 
lisher who was willing to adapt his wares to the wants of 
their clientele. Handsome library editions, limited editions, 
large-paper editions, for which the attraction of being ' Out 
of Print ' could generally be claixned, were the needs of the 
moment, and to these Nimmo devoted his attention with 
considerable if fluctuating success. 

Should a good standard book become exceedingly rare, he 
would reprint it, provided that the plates and similar essen- 

146 



1892-1896] JOHN C. NIMMO 

tials could be bought from their previous owners. Now and 
then his optimistic temper led him to print too many copies, 
as he did "with Stirling Maxwell's 'Annals of the Artists of 
Spain'; a mistake which would have involved him in a 
ruinous loss had not the mass of superfluous sheets been dis 
posed of by a timely fire at the binders', A happier invest 
ment was the series of Natural History books by the Rev. 
F. O. Morris. Having purchased the blocks and plates of 
'British Birds/ 'Moths and Butterflies/ 'Nests and Eggs/ 
he was able to reprint them regularly and profitably, until 
the more scientific works of Lord Lilford and others rendered 
Morris obsolete. The words 'coloured by hand' had a 
certain magic about them for the half-educated public, and 
the painting of the cuts in these books, and the plates in 
certain sporting reprints, amounted at times to quite a 
respectable industry. This reprint business was supple 
mented by a trade in the remaining copies of standard books* 
grown comatose or moribund. John Murray for some years 
was a regular source of supply. The results occasionally 
were curious. Among the 'remainders' thus purchased, 
bound up and resold at a reduced price, was Crowe and 
Cavalcaselle's ' Life of Titian.' When I wanted, a year later, 
to get a copy for myself, I found that the eager public 
demand for the 'remainder' had made the book a rarity 
more expensive than when it was first published. 

Such derivative activities did not exhaust or satisfy 
Mr. Nimmo's ambition. He was genuinely fond of hand 
some books, and aspired to a place among the best London 
publishers in virtue of the quality of his products. That 
delightful, wizened cynic, Henry van Laun, had introduced 
him to the byways of Continental literature, and therewith 
to John Addington Symonds. Symonds began by trans 
lating the 'Memoirs of Count Carlo Gozzi.' But the 
Venetian theatre made much less appeal to the general 
public than did his next translation, 'The Autobiography 
of Benvenuto Cellini.' This reads as if it were itself an 
original work, and may well outlive all the translator's other 

H7 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1892-1896 

literary efforts. In 1892, when I came to King William 
Street, Symonds was engaged upon a new 'Life of Michel 
angelo Buonarroti, 3 to be produced in similar style. It was 
a scholarly product, but the author's critical insight was not 
equal to his rhetorical fluency, so that the repute of the 
book has not survived the passage of time. America in those 
days was a prosperous book-market, and the profit on the 
* Cellini' and the "Michelangelo ' was materially swelled by 
the large editions which Messrs. Scribner purchased through 
their breezy London representative Lemuel W. Bangs. 

Another American firm, Estes and Lauriat of Boston, was 
associated with Nimmo in a still greater enterprise: the 
issue of the Waverley Novels in 48 volumes, edited by 
Andrew Lang, and illustrated with 288 etchings. It was 
the labour of preparing this ' Border Edition* that led to 
my services being requisitioned. Owing to the American 
copyright law, the text had to be printed from plates made 
in America, the proofs being read and re-read in London. 
The production of the etched illustrations was Nirnmo's con 
cern, and the first experiments made with 'Waverley,' c Guy 
Mannering' and 'The Antiquary' were so feeble, being 
based chiefly on old engravings or pictures, that Mr. H. 
Macbeth-Raeburn had been called in to introduce new 
methods and new men. 

Among the artists thus commissioned, his brother Robert 
Macbeth came first, to my thinking. His little plates, par 
ticularly the series in 'The Fortunes of Nigel,' display not 
only Macbeth's wonted spirit and vigorous rhythm, but 
unexpected qualities of humour and character., proving that 
in him the country possessed a really great illustrator. It 
is unlucky that his talent was not directed more frequently 
into that channel. The youthful D. Y. Cameron and 
William Strang were other notable contributors, and, at the 
very tail of the list, I came myself, being allowed by Macbeth- 
Raeburn to etch a plate for 'The Pirate/ a plate most 
heartily disliked by our American partners. Their favourite 
was the French etcher Lalauze ; he was certainly a wonderful 

148 



1892-1896] JOHN C. NIMMO 

craftsman. Our illustrator for 'Quentin Durward' had 
failed us at the eleventh hour : only a month was left for the 
designing and etching of a dozen plates. In desperation 
Nlmmo wired to Lalauze ; the commission was accepted and 
fulfilled to the day. A considerable proportion of the Scott 
etchings were reproductive, being made from wash drawings 
by well-known illustrators, of whom Wai Paget and William 
Hatherell were perhaps the most skilful. Comparison and 
criticism of these plates taught me much about the uses of 
the etched line ; I learned still more from talks with Macbeth- 
Raeburn and Strang. 

Strang's early etchings in the 'Portfolio 5 had been objects 
of admiration and collection since my Oxford days. His 
personality, now that I was privileged to know him, was no 
less invigorating than his work. He encouraged my humble 
attempts at drawing and painting, exhorted me to drop my 
niggling ways (what he called bot'ny), to use line and mass 
more broadly, and in 1893 backed my candidature for the 
Royal Society of Painter-Etchers. I was opposed, as an 
imitator of Rembrandt ( !), and rejected by one vote, but 
had the consolation of hearing that Seymour Haden had 
been among my supporters. Strang's lessons sank rather 
slowly into my dull brain, but sink they did, and my artistic 
debt to his friendship is second only to that due to Ricketts 
and Shannon. The edition of ' The Pilgrim's Progress ' con 
taining his etchings, which Nimmo issued, has always seemed 
to me one of the most satisfactory and desirable of the firm's 
publications ; much better than the volume of illustrations 
to e Paradise Lost, 3 a theme less suited to Strang's racy 
genius, although the set contains in The Creation of Eve one 
veritable masterpiece. 

The punctual issue every month of two volumes of Scott, 
in addition to other publications, would have involved some 
strain upon Nimmo's little staff, even if there had been no 
attendant difficulties. But our American colleagues were 
sharp men of business, charging so many extras to the joint 
account that we, in self-defence, had to do the same. Hence 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1892-1896 

arose an endless, acrimonious correspondence over details, 
the more comic and the more futile because each firm had 
to keep faith with its subscribers, and could not afford an 
actual rupture. So threats of repudiating bills continued to 
be met by threats of withholding illustrations, while the 
work went steadily forward. Nimmo understood the men 
with whom he -was dealing. Neither Lauriat nor his 
manager Jackson (afterwards the well-known impresario of 
the Encyclopedia Britannica), on their visits to England, 
raised more than perfunctory complaints, and when the 
great final dispute was over, the Americans, to my surprise, 
dropping all their moral indignation, their resentful pro 
tests, complimented Nimmo on his handling of the business, 
admitted that they had met their match, and tried to get 
him to join them in a second and still larger venture of the 
same kind. 

The mere mass of proof-reading involved was by itself 
considerable, and to cope with it a Scottish reader had been 

specially engaged. Sandy S became a friend from the 

day when I found him lying drunk on the floor of his room, 
and kicked and drenched him into presentability. Always 
a man of adventures, he bore a great scar on his face, a 
wedding present given with a champagne bottle by a smart 
lady whom he did not marry. Later, I fear, he got into 
more serious trouble. 

Before Sandy came to Nimmo, he had worked at Spottis- 
woode's, and had been present at the dinner given to Dr. 
Spottiswoode on his retirement. One of the staff asked 
leave to read a poem he had composed for the occasion. 
It began : 

4 Who is this man, so great and good, 
That bears the name of Spottiswoode? ' 

Dr. Spottiswoode was visibly flattered. But when the poem, 
continued : 

6 He gives us work to earn our bread. 
By doing this we are not dead.' 
150 



1892-1896] JOHN C. NIMMO 

there was a roar of laughter, and the too veracious author 
was immediately suppressed. Sandy himself, being proud 
of his knowledge of Scottish dialects, was not invulnerable. 
I once asked him the meaning of the nonsense from c The 
Bab Ballads ' c Hech, thrawfu 3 raltie, rorkie, 5 etc. Having 
puzzled over it solemnly for two days with his glossaries and 
dictionaries, he reported that he had found it to be c a 
mer-re meaningless jingle/ 

Lord Ronald Gowers's * Joan of Arc ' gave me my most 
troublesome piece of proof-reading. He had been intro 
duced to us by Symonds, and when we remonstrated about 
the MS. with which we were landed, Symonds cynically 
replied that Lord Ronald was a Duke's son, and could not 
therefore be judged by ordinary standards. Though written 
with enthusiasm and some knowledge, the style of the work 
was so incredibly careless that mere correction was not 
nearly enough. I had to take it home and spend my 
evenings in rewriting it. But the author, far from resenting 
the changes, welcomed them gratefully, raised not a single 
objection, and was rewarded for his complaisance by the 
reviews, which greeted it as the best thing he had ever done. 
Rumour attributed Lord Ronald's proficiency in the field 
of sculpture also to the assistance of clever 'ghosts. 5 Yet his 
statue of Lady Macbeth, washing her hands, of which he 
showed me a cast at Trebovir Road, seemed to me remark 
ably fine, an impression not due to my host's excellent 
Chambertin, for the bronze at Stratford-on-Avon is equally 
striking, so fine, that the original creative impulse must 
have been his own, though the details may well have been 
revised, as in the c joan of Arc, 3 by another. We could 
hardly fail to have heard more of the c ghost 3 if the Lady 
Macbeth had been ghost-work from start to finish. It is 
among the most effective products of the period. 

Symonds's own 'Autobiography' was another source of 
trouble. The manuscript was deliberately outspoken on 
many matters which are usually handled with reticence, so 
that Horatio Brown, Symonds's friend and editor, exercised 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1892-1896 

little more than ordinary discretion in cutting out the most 
intimate self-revelations. But a straiter critic had then to 
take a hand. The proofs, already bowdlerized, were com 
pletely emasculated, so that frank < Confessions, 3 which 
might have made some little stir In the world (indeed that 
was generally expected), emerged as pure commonplace. 
In their anxiety to be safe about ethical and physical 
peculiarities, the revisers overlooked two pleasant misprints^ 
which I corrected just before the proofs went to press. One 
was a reference to niy friend Mr. Goose'; the other 
included among the great satisfactions of a well-spent life 
'the company of noblemen/ 

Much of this proof-reading had to be done in the evening 
at Cowley Street, the day being otherwise engaged. But 
there were occasions when I could attend to my own affairs ; 
the most important, of course, being the business of learning 
how to draw and to paint. Reynolds' s c Discourses' (the 
most encouraging thing ever written upon Art), Hogarth's 
c Analysis of Beauty,' John Burnet's ponderous 'Treatise, 3 
with Ricketts, Japanese prints and Strang, all superimposed 
upon Ruskin and Hamerton, made such an amorphous con 
glomeration of ideas and theories that it became necessary 
to think the whole thing out afresh, starting from first prin 
ciples. With this intention, I laboriously composed several 
chapters of a pictorial eirenicon, a childish forerunner of 
'The Science of Picture-Making.' At the same time, in 
1893, I started painting little landscapes in oil, using only 
one brush, from sheer ignorance that real painters used 
several. On Sunday morning the programme was varied. 
Any friend who called might have his portrait painted, if 
he would only sit quite still for an hour or two. One 
obeyed my order so faithfully that, as he asseverated, the 
pattern of my cane-bottomed chair was impressed on his 
person for several days. His likeness, however, turned out 
unusually well. 

Congenial company was never lacking in this Westminster 
backwater. Laurence Binyon lodged in Great College 

152 




LAURENCE BINYON 
After an etching by William Strang 



1892-1896] JOHN C. NIMMO 

Street ; his bed, and all else in his room, being almost buried 
under review-books. He shared my enthusiasm for Strang, 
under whose guidance we both made essays in wood- 
engraving. Harold Child from Brasenose, Arthur Lowry 
from Eton, and the Rev. H. N. Hutchinson, author of 
* Extinct Monsters, * were fellow-lodgers, Cochrane, the 
Herald, lived just opposite. To Barton Street, rather later, 
came my friend Cripps, and G. Mayer, now of ColnaghTs, 
but then engaged in mastering Dlirer and Rembrandt on a 
diet of prunes, oranges and nuts. 

The most impressive of all my visitors was an almost for 
gotten junior of my Canterbury days, A. H. Turner, now 
grown into a tall, dark and rather exciting young man. 
Entering the service of the Niger Company at the age of 
seventeen, he had quickly mastered the languages of West 
Africa and the Koran (the true key, he explained, to general 
intercourse), until he could pass anywhere as a native. As 
such he had travelled on foot to the then almost unknown 
city of Kano, and now was discussing plans for the future 
with Mr. Joseph Chamberlain. Turner had not over 
estimated his own capacity. When Benin was conquered, 
he was appointed its first Resident, and there fever brought 
his meteoric career to an end at the age of twenty-six. 

For exercise indoors I relied upon boxing with footballers 
from St. Thomas's Hospital, and with my powerful friend 
Desborough Walford, one of whose blows I have reason to 
remember. It advanced under my too hasty guard like the 
buffer of a locomotive, caught me on the chin, and lifted me 
off my feet into the glass of a picture on the wall behind. 
Golf at Tooting Bee, among nursemaids and perambulators, 
though amusing, was found to waste valuable time. Long 
walks in the Home Counties had the doubtful advantage of 
setting me to work upon bright red tiles, green fields, fluffy 
trees and purple heather, totally unsympathetic material, 
over which I wasted much paint, paper and canvas. I tried 
also a few figure compositions, the most ambitious being a 
nude Andromeda, painted from my own bony person with 

153 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1892-1896 

some difficulty and a looking-glass, who showed too many 
traces of her origin to have tempted even a sea-monster. 
When my friend Child was playing the part of an artist in 
Harry Paulton's Company at the Strand Theatre, the con 
tents of my attic were requisitioned to furnish his stage studio, 
and so appeared in public for the first time. But even in 
that not too exacting environment, I noticed that poor 
Andromeda was allowed to show to the audience only her 
canvas back. 

In May 1893, being granted a sudden holiday, I went 
alone to the Wasdale Hotel, in search of fresh air and 
exercise. I had lost a stone in weight since leaving Oxford, 
and had been more than once in the doctor's hands. Old 
Will Ritson was dead, but under Tyson, his successor at the 
hotel, the simple fare and accommodation (O the beefsteaks 
and the bathroom !) were unchanged. The company there 
.was of the very best, climbers all, but my attraction, at first, 
was the fishing. With the idea that the most inaccessible 
waters would provide the best sport, I dragged a 12 -foot fly 
rod up to Scoat Tarn, with no result. Sprinkling Tarn also 
was drawn blank, but here the day was hot, I had taken Sty 
Head at a run, and my temper was up. The tarn looked 
shallow and not over-chilly ; I would see whether the place 
did really contain the trout mentioned in Jenkinson's guide 
book. Plunging in, I swam down, exploring the depths in 
every direction, only to find them thickly, incredibly thickly, 
populated with large minnows. So disgusted was I that on 
my way back I never troubled to cast a fly on Sty Head 
Tarn, which really does contain trout. In the becks I did 
little better, till it occurred to me to get up at five in the 
morning. Then I began at once to catch respectable fish. 
On Wastwater they seemed to take only between 8 and 10 
o'clock at night. Hiring a tub of a boat from Strands, I 
rowed it up to the head of the lake, and went out trailing the 
fly every night after dinner, always catching fish, and having 
the rest of the day free for walking and climbing. 
Among the visitors to the hotel was a frail Mr. Baum- 



1892-1896] JOHN C. NIMMO 

gartner, over eighty years of age, who had been one of the 
very first to climb the Pillar Rock, and was still a mountain 
eering enthusiast. He alarmed us one day in the momentary 
absence of his nurse, by illustrating, between the doorposts 
of the hotel, the proper method of climbing a rock-chimney, 
and attaining by tremulous gymnastics a height from which 
a slip would certainly have been fataL After spending one 
unsuccessful afternoon on the Pillar, uninstructed and by 
myself, I was taken there again by a queer, friendly, learned, 
loquacious Rabelaisian parson who sported a rope and an 
ice-axe. Being duly roped, I passed the Slab and Notch, my 
previous point of stoppage, at the cost of a few biting com 
ments upon my caution. But when my critic had stretched 
a leg on the Slab to follow me, he paused long, and then 
withdrew it, saying, 'My nerve is not what it was'; so I 
crept up to the summit alone. After verifying Mr. Baum- 
gartner's place at the beginning of the old notebook in the 
cairn, I was scribbling my name in its successor, when a loud 
clap of thunder crashed overhead. Terror of my eminence 
on that isolated rock ousted all terror of the cliffs around me. 
I slithered and scrambled down into safety and torrential 
rain, with a speed which proved that the difficulties had been 
mostly those of imagination. My clerical friend, at dinner, 
insisted on a bottle of hock, to celebrate appropriately the 
fact that WE had climbed the Pillar. 

In the course of my scrambles on Scawfell, and elsewhere, 
I made a number of careful little drawings, but they mostly 
contained only details without substance. In consequence 
they proved of little practical service compared with a couple 
of hasty blots of effects noticed when fishing in the early 
morning, clouds rolling off the Pillar Mountain and Great 
Gable. These two subjects had all the massive grandeur and 
simplicity of tone which the Surrey landscape lacked, and 
the thought of them drew me back again and again to the 
North. When I returned, half a stone heavier, from that 
strenuous fortnight among our little but very real mountains, 
even the larger buildings of London looked strangely petite. 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1892-1896 



The subjects collected during the next two years, 1894 
1895, were almost immediately lost to me with the sketch 
books which contained them. One book was left in a railway 
carriage, and the finder must have callously disregarded the 
plea for its return which I had written plainly at the end. 
The second not only bore my address, but the generous offer 
of 2s. 6d. to the finder ; an offer which failed to tempt the 
appreciative workman who filched the book from my Cowley 
Street lodgings when they were being repainted. In addition 
to notes made during two trips on the Continent, which I 
have now almost completely forgotten, these books included 
a number of rather elaborate studies in Norfolk, in Con 
stable's country and in the Ullswater district. 

The loss of the East Anglian group I particularly regret. 
Norwich at that time hardly differed from the Norwich of 
John Crome, To row on the Yare, the Wensum or the 
Bure among picturesque tumble-down buildings, past slopes 
crowned with old towers, windmills or solemn shadowy trees, 
with reedy flats below and expanses of water providing fore 
grounds, was to discover theme after theme for designs of a 
kind inconceivable in the busy modern city, with its big 
up-to-date hotels, its roaring clanging tramways, its blazing 
arc-lamps. The windy beauty of Dedham Vale was another 
surprise, so exactly did it resemble Constable's pictures and 
sketches. Only at Manningtree, Langham and Boxted could 
I find good subjects which he had overlooked, and which I 
could therefore misuse without seeming to be a mere imitator. 

Of all the Continental sketches that thus went astray I can 
now recall only one; a study of the solemn, tumbled 
boulders at Apremont. But there were also several experi 
ments in simplification and vivid colour the loss of which 
was really a nuisance, since their partial success might have 
shortened the road of escape from dingy realism. The 
Ullswater sketches, being made in monotonously fine 
weather, were less inspiring : indeed the weather drove me 
to other amusements. 

At night I wasted hours in trolling on the lake for salmo 

156 



1892-1896] JOHN C NIMMO 

fewx ; a fish which (confound Mr. Cholmondeley Pennell !) 
does not exist there. By day I scrambled over the fells, 
finding the crags above Mardale to be splendid practice- 
ground for an amateur, and had a run up and down Hel- 
vellyn, in under two hours, on my way to Windermere. A 
second visit to the Lakes was even less fruitful as regards 
painting, for I spent all my time over some imitation trout, 
made out of discarded etching-plates, and carefully coloured 
in oil. One of these, by some magical accident, swayed and 
swooped through the water exactly like a disabled fish. At 
Lakeside it caught two pike in the first ten minutes, and 
then hooked a three-pound trout, which broke the trace 
with a final kick on the edge of the landing-net. When he 
slowly vanished into the depths, the copper fish still hanging 
vertical from his jaw, my fortune vanished too. All the 
similar baits proved useless. I could never recapture the 
secret of that one irresistible curve, that enchanting wobble. 
Pressure of work left few opportunities for diversions in 
London. A ragged, flickering film of the Corbett-Fitz- 
simmons fight, at the Westminster Aquarium, introduced me 
to the e movies, 3 and to the excitement of real heavy-weight 
boxing. The Granville Dicksons favoured the Court Theatre 
and took me with them several times to laugh at Mrs. John 
Wood. Arthur Dickson, when visiting London, would rouse 
me out of my Westminster seclusion to see Vesta Tilley, 
Bessie Bellwood and that lot at the Tivoli ; e Mrs. Ebbsmith/ 
C A Woman of No Importance' and 'Lady Windermere's 
Fan 3 at the Haymarket, or 'The Importance of Being 
Earnest' at the St. James', surely the best farce of its age? 
Oscar Wilde's dialogue, at this time, seemed to infect all 
London. For 'Lady Windermere's Fan' we could only get 
seats in the gallery, the rest of the house being crowded. At 
that distance from the stage it was not easy to catch all that 
was said. Presently a girl behind us remarked, rather 
petulantly, 'One can't hear anything up here.' Oh 
well! 3 replied her companion, 'that is the privilege of the 
gods. 3 My friend Cripps, too, would appear now and then 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1892-1896 

with tickets for such things as 'Madame Sans-Gene 5 with 
Rejane, or 'Hamlet' with Sarah Bernhardt. This was an 
extraordinary performance, Sarah being the only Hamlet I 
have seen who was unmistakably royal,, a prince of the blood 
from first to last. Ophelia was played by a frail little flapper, 
whose end seemed sheer child-murder, a deed of pity and 
fear overshadowing all that followed, for which the pile of 
corpses at the last seemed the one conceivable expiation. 
When the part of Ophelia is taken by some experienced and 
possibly mature leading lady, the need for any such dramatic 
atonement does not arise, and Hamlet's death appears quite 
unmerited bad luck. 

Talk about Wagner brought me early to Covent Garden, 
where the Overture to c Tannhauser,' heard for the first time, 
so thrilled and exhausted me that I was deaf to Maurel and 
the rest. * Lohengrin* with the brothers de Reszke provided 
another sensation. Jean looked and sang as a semi-divine 
hero should do. Never was more perfect phrasing, but he 
lounged through his part with the easy swagger of a spoiled 
stage-darling, to the destruction of all dramatic veracity. 
Max Alvary in c Siegfried ' was really more convincing. Not 
only did he look the part, but the final scene with Fraulein 
Klafsky as Brunnhilde was sung with a fire and passion 
which Siegfrieds can rarely summon up after the two 
gruelling acts which come before. Being totally ignorant of 
music, I could enjoy these performances only in the light of 
the sensations which they induced, but I was interested 
many years later to find that Claude Phillips counted this 
Alvary-Klafsky combination as the finest rendering of 
c Siegfried 3 which he had ever heard in all his long experi 
ence of English and Continental productions. 

Apart from these occasional treats, my excursions from the 
daily round of work seldom went beyond evening visits to 
the grill-room at South Kensington Museum, with its big 
bearded cook, its sizzling chops and steaks, followed by a 
stroll round the almost deserted galleries under the hissing 
uncertain arc-lamps, or to the quiet Library. Some know- 

158 



1892-1896] JOHN C. NIMMO 

ledge presumably was assimilated in this desultory fashion : 
later the visits grew more regular and definite in their 
purpose. The evening opening of Galleries and Museums 
may never attract great crowds ; yet the few who do go are 
sure to be real students, and some justification for the 
expense involved. In the Library, for example, I met my 
old school-fellow Carr-Bosanquet, already the possessor, as 
it seemed to me, of an exceptional knowledge of Greek 
Antiquities, and then standing for a junior assistant's place 
in the British Museum. But in the examination (they 
manage these things more sensibly now) he was ploughed in 
some such subject as Quadratic Equations, only to rise a few 
years later, after a series of distinguished achievements, to 
the Directorship of the British School at Athens. 

My one other diversion, the Friday evenings passed with 
Ricketts and Shannon, had such a direct connexion with 
the years to follow, that any comment upon them may be 
postponed until the remaining phases of my work with 
Nimmo have been briefly sketched. Memory plays queer 
tricks and, but for the discovery of an old bundle of letters, 
I should certainly have misrepresented the history of this 
unsatisfactory time. 

The agreement with Nimmo stipulated that I should act 
as manager for one year, and then be admitted to a junior 
partnership. At the end of the year he insisted on a post* 
ponement. The Waverley Novels and other books had 
proved exceedingly profitable, and he said, quite frankly, that 
he did not see why I should share in the benefit from schemes 
which I had not helped to originate] As I had worked like 
a horse at them all, this seemed rather hard. Yet I did not 
like breaking with him and being once more out of a job a 
so I gave way. Worse things were to follow. 

When the time did come for drawing up a partnership 
agreement, I had to see about getting the capital originally 
promised, "either without interest or at a nominal rate. 3 
The sum was 2000, which had previously been lent to 
Nimmo, when I came to him, at 4 per cent, interest. My 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1892-1896 

cousin's solicitors informed me that the rate would now be 
5 per cent. , and that the amount should be covered by an 
Insurance Policy, making 8 per cent., or more, in all. The 
proposal shocked and angered me, not only because accept 
ance meant slavery for years if not for life, a perpetuity of 
indebted poor-relationship, but still more by its contrast to 
the friendly and generous treatment I had hitherto received, 
and had been led to expect. After consulting my mother, 
her family solicitors and Nimmo, I rejected the proposal. 
Nimmo was prepared to keep me on as manager at my old 
salary, and offers were made in other quarters for providing 
me with the sum required. Then the solicitors reopened 
negotiations on the 5 per cent, basis. To have held out 
would have involved a family quarrel, so I accepted the loan 
on those terms and became a very junior partner. 

Nimmo at this time was involved in litigation with Messrs. 
Quantin of Paris, over certain imperfect copies of a sumptu 
ous work on Sevres Porcelain which he had bought from 
them. He obtained a judgment, by consent, in the King's 
Bench 3 but had no means of enforcing it except by further 
proceedings in Paris, which his lawyer unhappily encour 
aged. Direct liability for this interminable lawsuit I was 
resolute to avoid ; indeed the cost of proceeding vainly from 
one French court to another eventually swallowed up most 
of the profit which Nimmo had made in the preceding years. 
More personal difficulties arose over an elaborate work on 
'Naval and Military Trophies* which my uncle Richard 
Holmes introduced to us. The material for illustration was 
an elaborate series of water-colour drawings by William 
Gibb, R.S.A., really most able things; round these the 
battle raged. The cost of making facsimiles by chromo- 
Kthography would be very great; more, far more, than I 
thought we should risk on a single book. Nimmo, always 
fond of fine things, would be content with nothing less, 
rejecting with contumely the more economic scheme of 
reproduction by copper-plates printed in colour. Finally I 
agreed to abide by the opinion of the booksellers who would 

1 60 



1892-1896] JOHN C. NIMMO 

handle the publication. This was reported to be entirely 
favourable, and 1 gave my consent accordingly. But when 
the book appeared, the subscriptions were barely one-fifth 

of what was expected. I made private inquiry and found 
that dubious advance reports had been edited for my benefit, 
unfavourable ones suppressed. A lucky coup by our clever 
traveller ultimately reduced the loss to moderate dimensions, 
but my confidence was badly shaken. 

There were further reasons for anxiety. My mother, 
wishing that I should not be too greatly indebted to what 
now seemed a grudging source of support, had taken over 
one-half of my 2000 share in the concern. If by any 
further mischance of business that sum should be diminished 
or lost, her sole means of living would be imperilled. Yet ail 
my attempts to introduce new and less risky elements into 
the firm's programme were met with a stubborn conservatism 
against which it was vain to contend. 'What had sold in 
the past would continue to sell/ The smallest change at 
last came to involve long hours, nay days, of persuasion, as 
trying to the temper of both parties as they were costly in 
point of time. No business carried on in such conditions 
could prosper. 

Yet the alternative was disheartening; to confess frankly 
to failure, to give up the results, such as they were, of years 
of exceptionally hard work, and to start all over again. To 
be once more 'on the streets* might be no engaging pros 
pect, yet could it really be as intolerable as the burden of my 
present apprehensions? I had the chance of retiring at 
Midsummer 1896 if I chose to take it, and went accordingly 
to Richmond, to consult my mother, on whose good sense 
I could rely. After hearing the two sides of the case, she 
considered me to be so badly worried that I ought to take 
the risk of leaving. 

Having agreed to this desperate plunge, I proceeded to 
join a party on the river, and in their company rowed up 
to some islet or other for a picnic tea. As we were boiling 
the kettle, my hostess recognized a girl in another group of 

161 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1892-1896 

picnickers. She came across to us for a few minutes. In the 
course of casual talk I heard a question, 'Have you done 
any palmistry of late? ' I had always wondered whether 
there was any truth at all in these pseudo-sciences, so 
summoned up courage to ask this total stranger whether she 
would be so good as to look at my hand, and held it out. 
She took it, thought over it a moment, and then said, 
"Well, you are making, or are about to make, the greatest 
change in your life.' When I asked the reason for this 
unexpected guess at truth, she at once showed me the mark 
upon which she relied, and expressed no surprise on being 
told that, just two hours before, I had decided to give up 
my present profession. 

Writing the fatal letter was made no easier by the receipt 
of a very cheerful and friendly note from Nimmo, who was 
away fishing Loch Laggan, accompanied by a present of 
trout. But it had to be done, and he took the announcement 
very well, merely asking me to stay on for a little until out 
standing details of business could be cleared up. I had 
known for a month or two that Ricketts and Shannon found 
the starting of their little shop in Warwick Street to be 
unexpectedly troublesome, and that the manager (appointed 
at my suggestion) was leaving them. In consequence they 
were glad to have my help to put their affairs in order while 
I looked about for another job. So the reward of seven 
years' really hard work at publishing and printing came to 
be a salary of 80 a year, and a place behind the counter 
of a tiny shop. 



162 



CHAPTER X 

THE VALE PRESS 

(1896-1903) 

Ricketts and Shannon; their friends and ideals; my literary 
and artistic education; Oscar Wilde; *The Sphinx' and 
'Salome*; move from The Vale to Beaufort St. ; W. L. Ha con; 
the Vale Press started ; the shop in Warwick Stu ; John Lane ; 
the sport of collecting; impressions of Italy Ricketts and 
Glutton-Brock. 

RICKETTS and Shannon during the first few evenings at The 
Vale told me almost all about themselves which I was ever 
to know. Shannon, fresh, plump and curly-haired, was 
actually the senior of the two. At St. John's.* Leatherhead, 
he had some repute as a footballer; then he became a 
teacher at the Croydon Art School, 'with heaps of friends 
until Ricketts quarrelled with them.' It was difficult to 
believe that Ricketts in the spring of 1892, with Ms high 
forehead, pointed beard and intellectual precocity, was only 
twenty-five. He talked upon art, letters and life with the 
conviction and shrewdness of complete maturity. Of his 
early days he said little, except that he had disappointed his 
father by not proving an athlete and a lover of field sports, 
and that much of Ms boyhood had been spent in France, his 
spiritual home. He and Shannon had become friends at 
Croydon, had started life together in the Kennington Road, 
and were now settling down to an agreed programme wMch 
had in it something of the heroic. 

Shannon, they decided, was to be the great painter. He 
had already exhibited with some credit at the Grosvenor 
Gallery in 1887, and two of these early products Will he 
come in?, figuring, as they say, a mammoth, red and angry 
at the edge of an ice-bound pool, wherein sMvered sundry 

163 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1896-1903 

apprehensive specimens of primeval man, and a smaller 
panel, Benaiah killing the Lion, still occupied places of dis 
honour in a back room at The Vale. But Shannon was not 
to exhibit again until he appeared as the complete and 
undeniable master, upon whose princely income Ricketts 
then proposed to live in ease for the rest of his life. Until 
that great day came Shannon's painting would be done in 
private, watched and criticized by Ricketts alone, and the 
painter would work for their common welfare only when 
collaboration was required, or necessity compelled. It was 
upon Ricketts that the main burden was laid of providing 
for immediate wants, by drawing illustrations, advertisements 
or anything else which would bring in a little money. 

Ricketts told me how once in Bond Street he was drawing 
some ladies' stockings in a shop, for a catalogue of such 
wares. The pattern of one specimen did not show clearly. 
'Would you like to see it on?' asked the manageress, to his 
great embarrassment, until he found that only a lay-figure 
leg was to be shown to him. Pen-drawings, in the style of 
Edwin Abbey, were a further source of income. One of 
these caught the eye of Leighton, who ascertained Ricketts's 
address, asked him to call, and commissioned a drawing of 
any subject he pleased, for five pounds, with the remark 
(rather touching in the mouth of a famous and popular 
P.R.A.), c Pm afraid you won't care for my work, but I am 
interested in yours.' The resultant drawing, placed by the 
President with two other favourites, c my Walter West and 
my Anning Bell/ represented Oedipus and the Sphinx. At 
the Leighton sale Ricketts repurchased this delicate and 
elaborate specimen of his early style : it now belongs to 
Sir William Rothenstein. 

Though Sturge Moore the poet, and the maker of some 
fine original woodcuts, remained the most intimate friend 
of the couple at The Vale, Reginald Savage at one period 
did, I think, more work in their company. I still possess 
a little drawing of Ricketts, with a narcissus drooping from 
his hand, being taken for a walk between a dishevelled 

164 




THE PIPING TIMES O PEACE 

The evening of August 25, 1893- A Discussion about the Theatre. 
Drawn by Ricketts. 




J. C. NIMMO AFTER LUNCHING A CUSTOMER 
Drawn by the author. 



1896-1903] THE VALE PRESS 

Savage and an authoritative top-hatted Shannon. As an 
artist Savage displayed exceptional talent. His woodcut of 
Behemoth, which had so impressed me at Ballantyne's, was 
not more masterly than his pen-and-ink drawings in the 
Pre-Raphaelite manner, of which specimens may be found 
in 'The Dial/ Savage, however, could not remain content 
with the meagre rewards which attend original design and 
scrupulous workmanship. To Ricketts's regret, he drifted 
off to make a living as an illustrator in a manner less exacting 
and much better paid. 

At first Ricketts and Shannon were often to be found 
alone, and in long evenings with them I was introduced to 
a literature and art very unlike the canonical classics of my 
schooldays. Baudelaire and Verlaine, Huysmans and 
Villiers de X/Isle Adam, with Forain, Puvis and Gustave 
Moreau for pictorial accompaniment, were deities I had 
now to reckon with, and try to reconcile privately with my 
older Olympians. All Ricketts's enthusiasm, however, failed 
to inspire rne with his sense of the high place in life which 
the Theatre should occupy. Indeed a melancholy reminder 
of my rudeness in opposing him on this point remains in 
a little caricature. I sit with glaring eyes. I smoke a 
colossal curly pipe. With a monstrous arm I hit Shannon 
on the nose, while Ricketts weeps into a dish on the floor, 
flattened out by a no less monstrous foot in a spiked boot. 
These talks would last for hours. Then, towards one in the 
morning, Shannon would disappear and return bearing a 
big tray with rolled tongue, bread and butter, quince jam 
(a speciality of these meals) and great cups of steaming 
cocoa. Surely no clerk was ever so fortunate in his friends ! 

My kindly, worldly old cousin Mrs. Toynbee (Arnold's 
mother) frequently received me at Queen Anne's Mansions. 
I remember finding her there on Sunday afternoons, dozing, 
propped up in her great chair, with some big serious book 
on the reading-desk before her, and a French novel on her 
lap underneath. She was seriously alarmed by what she 
regarded as my descent into Bohemia. She had known 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1896-1903 

Rossetti and his circle, and said that there was too much 
champagne about Bohemia for her liking. When I told her 
about the cocoa the old lady was reassured, and a little 
disappointed. 

Ricketts had for some years worked with Oscar Wilde as 
an illustrator and a designer of bindings. Wilde, now en 
gaged upon c The Sphinx ' and c Salome/ became for a time 
a constant visitor at The Vale, and with his visits the evenings 
there assumed a new character. Personally he was a sur 
prise. Knowing him only by repute as an aesthete, and 
having met at Oxford a languid specimen of the breed in 
brown velvet and knee-breeches, I was prepared for a super- 
Postlethwaite, conceited and affected. Instead I was intro 
duced to a big handsome man, well groomed and well 
dressed, whose manner to Ricketts tempered laughing assur 
ance with so much friendship and respect as to be immedi 
ately attractive. That Wilde was kindly and good-natured 
was no less evident than that he bubbled over with wit, did 
not take enough exercise, and would soon be in danger of 
growing fat. He came to read the manuscript of 'The 
Sphinx, 3 which Ricketts was to illustrate and bind. The 
impression he left on me was of one who had worked much 
harder than he pretended to do, whose genius was fanciful 
and 'quick to assimilate, rather than original or profound. 
There was too, I thought, a genuine sincerity, oddly at 
variance with the lightness of his talk, in his voice as he 
read the conclusion, dismissing the false tempter : 

* Go thou before, and leave me to my crucifix 
Whose pallid burden, sick with pain, watches the world with 

wearied eyes, 
And weeps for every soul that dies, and weeps for every 

soul in vain.' 

But when discussion started I could find nothing more 
polite or apposite to say than that the metre was surely that 
of c ln Memoriam 5 ? c No,' said the author, e it is printed 
quite differently/ This may account for what followed. It 
was summer and the windows were wide open. When 

166 



1896-1903] THE VALE PRESS 

Ricketts bade farewell to Wilde at the door below, I could 
not help hearing my name mentioned as a new friend of 
theirs, Yes/ said Wilde/ quite nice, but SO dull/ 'No/ 
replied Ricketts bravely, he is really quite intelligent, but 
most horribly overworked.' 

On the next occasion Wilde and I happened to leave 
together, and I walked with him as far as the corner of Tite 
Street, he asking me about my work, and talking pleasant, 
unanswerable nonsense all the time. A more instructive 
evening was spent in discussing 'Salome.' This was con 
ceived as a fantastic jeu d* esprit, in which elements suggested 
by Maeterlinck, Flaubert and the bejewelled ritualism of 
Gustave Moreau were paraded and parodied. 'What are 
the wild beasts that are howling? ' is asked at the outset. 
*It s s the Jews discussing their religion* is the reply. Wilde 
also stressed the absurdity of 'And I will give you a flower, 
Narraboth, a little green flower,' until Ricketts upset his 
complacency by saying that some flowers really were green. 
Then he talked of the appropriate stage-setting, rich, dim 
backgrounds with the Jews all in yellow, lokanaan in white, 
Herod in deep blood-red, and Salome herself in pale green 
like a snake. On another evening he brought round 
Beardsley's newly completed drawings. Ricketts was en 
thusiastic about their accomplishment, praising the more 
generously perhaps because he would like to have illustrated 
the play himself. 

He certainly understood Wilde's intentions far better than 
Beardsley, whose Salome is no idolized, wilful princess in a 
remote Oriental palace, but a jaded Cyprian apache from a 
music-hall promenade. The choice of Beardsley was un 
lucky, too, for Wilde himself. Beardsley's art was already so 
generally associated in the Victorian mind with ideas of a 
veiled priapism, that even his most innocent designs were 
searched for some sinister meaning. Salome * thus obtained 
an undeserved repute for hidden depravities, which did the 
author no good when times of trouble came, while for the 
hieratic atmosphere which should have invested its presenta- 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1896-1903 

tion on the stage, there was substituted a Grand Guignol 
animalism. Beardsley himself I met but once, and then his 
clear disdain for my humble self displeased me less than his 
affected and casual attitude towards Ricketts. But there 
could be no denying his genius as a draughtsman. His 
illustrations to 'The Rape of the Lock' still seem to me 
incomparable. 

The last appearance of Wilde at The Vale which I 
remember was also the most brilliant. Walter Sickert was 
there, boyish, clean-shaven, aureoled with a mass of blond 
hair, playing with a crinolined doll and flashing out now 
and then with some lively repartee; Steer sat by me in 
monumental silence; w r hile Ricketts, perched on the edge 
of the table, engaged Wilde in a long verbal combat. So 
swiftly came parry and riposte, that my slow brain could only 
follow the tongue-play several sentences behind, and cannot 
remember a word of what passed, except ' Oh ! nonsense, 
Oscar ! ' from Ricketts, although it lives in memory as the 
most dazzling dialogue which I was ever privileged to hear. 

Success as a playwright soon left Wilde little time for The 
Vale. I saw him no more, but laughed with all London at 
his comedies, and at the parody of his talk (too slow, solemn 
and stilted) in 'The Green Carnation.' Then came the 
amazing sequels, the postcard, the libel action and the trial ; 
a nightmare for which nothing had prepared us. Much of 
the evidence, no doubt, was dubious, but Wilde was ill- 
advised in bringing into Court a type of case which our 
conventions (with at least as much sense as hypocrisy) prefer 
to settle quietly in another fashion. The very cleverness of 
his repartees to Carson aggravated the error by appearing 
to defend it. In the light of after years I am inclined to 
think the truth was somewhat as follows. All Wilde's earlier 
plots, from 'The Fisherman and his Soul' to 'The Picture 
of Dorian Gray' and 'The Sphinx/ are concerned with the 
same thesis : the temptations of the world and the flesh, 
balanced against the inevitable corruption and death of the 
soul that gives way to them. Had the author played so long 

168 



1896-1903] THE VALE PRESS 

in imagination on the brink of dangerous experiences that, 
when success and good living had sapped his self-control, he 
yielded to curiosity, and stepped at last over the edge, as 
many have done before with less catastrophic results? It 
may be so. My memory remains that of a kindly and most 
brilliant man, who did and said nothing whatever which 
could give offence to the least in his company. 

Eicketts and Shannon meanwhile were making two essays 
in book-production. 'Daphnis and Chloe/ the earlier of 
the two, was deliberately begun under a strong influence 
from the 'Hypnerotomachia.' In the later portions of the 
book the designs become more personal; that representing 
Venus and AncMses is a pattern of singular beauty. The 
Wedding Feast ofDaphnis and Chios has the additional interest 
of containing a portrait-group. On the extreme right the 
artists are shown, Ricketts, Shannon, Sturge Moore, Lucien 
Pissarro, Reginald Savage ; the figure standing behind them 
is Mr. Riley, and on the opposite side of the table to the 
artists (the opposition was deliberate) sits an unfamiliar 
Holmes. As Ricketts sat at work among us one evening, 
some remark made him rock with laughter, and I heard him 
say, e Oh damn! I've run the graver through Holmes's 
moustache. It must come out. 3 And out it came. In 
'Hero and Leander * the Venetian influence upon the design 
has vanished; the border to the title-page exhibiting the 
blend of rhythmic involution with lively spirit which was to 
characterize all Ricketts's future work of the same kind. The 
exquisite, abstract beauty of the vellum binding is no less 
prophetic. 

In 1894 ^ e ^tists moved from The Vale to 31 Beaufort 
Street, where the number of their \isitors increased. Lucien 
Pissarro (the gentlest surely of professed Anarchists) delighted 
them alike by Ms wood-engravings and his engaging talk. 
Shannon had done a pastel in the hatched manner of 
Besnard. * How peautifui ! It is joost like voolvarks ' was 
the alleged comment. And to me, ' Your work will always be 
interesting because it is sincere; but ze artist is borrn an 

169 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1896-1903 

artist.' Fortunately I had no illusions on that subject. 
Pissarro's father Camille, the famous Impressionist, a noble 
patriarchal figure, and Alphonse Legros, were the chief 
representatives of the older generation ; Conder, to me at 
least, the most curiously attractive of the juniors. 

For nearly an hour on one occasion, he held me with a 
talk on the technique of painting on leather, detailed with a 
dreamy charm which rendered every moment enchanting, 
although leather-painting was none of my business. He laid 
particular stress on the need for probity in the art, for the use 
of the most permanent materials, speaking with such appar 
ent conviction that I was completely hypnotized, and could 
not believe for years that he himself was utterly unscrupulous 
in his own methods. It is something to have seen the superb 
early products of that genius, before the pigments had faded 
to mere dull stains, and the material beneath them had 
rotted away. No succeeding generation will understand our 
admiration for the exquisite symphonies In colour which 
Conder produced during the middle 'nineties. Their fame 
was written in aniline dye, and his subsequent work in more 
solid materials is but a tragic parody of their enchanting, 
their audacious refinement. 

While D. S. MacColl, Roger Fry, Max Beerbohm and 
others, including Leonard Smithers, in more than one sense 
the most curious of publishers, with his languid h-less twang 
and limp wet fingers, paid occasional calls at Beaufort Street, 
Will Rothenstein became a visitor both constant and con 
spicuous. His experiences in Paris and at Oxford, his 
acquaintance with almost all the well-known figures of the 
time, his ready tongue, his clever paintings and lithographs, 
combined unexpectedly with something of the lively, irre 
sponsible schoolboy. Only now and then did these light- 
hearted moods reveal a trace of the self-critical spirit which 
was to dominate his work in after years. With him some 
times came his fiancee, pretty, smiling, fair-haired Alice 
Kingsley, or a sturdy genial friend in a dinner-jacket, 
W. Llewellyn Hacon. 

170 




CONDER, RICKETTS, HACON AND SHANNON 

Photographed at the Vale, 1893 




RICKETTS TAKEN FOR A WALK BY SAVAGE 

AND SHANNON 
Drawn by Shannon, 1892 



1896-1903] THE VALE PRESS 

Of an old East Anglian family, the son of a successful 
barrister, Hacon had passed through Beaumont, New Inn 
Hall and Balliol, and had played polo for the University 
before his career at Oxford came to an end. A tour on the 
Continent with a tutor resulted in enlistment as a private in 
an Austrian cavalry regiment, with which he served through 
one winter in a mountain depot. Redeemed in due course 
by his family, he practised for a time at the bar, but his 
interest in art, letters and life, coupled with his skill 
at games (he was a scratch golfer) y soon diverted his 
activities. He was admirable company, being as ready 
to defend the mysteries of Roman Catholic doctrine as to 
describe duelling with the sabre, and had taken the house 
in The Vale when Ricketts and Shannon left it. His 
wife, a Miss Bradshaw, was much admired by all the 
artistic colony of the day for her beauty and good nature. 
Rothenstein, having recorded her attractiveness in an admir 
able drawing, now enlisted Hacon's sympathy for an idea 
which Ricketts had long cherished, of setting up as a printer 
and publisher with type and decorations of his own 
designing. 

The two previous books which Ricketts and Shannon had 
produced,, and which had been issued by Elkin Matthews 
and John Lane, were printed in commercial founts, and 
these, though the best available, did not fulfil Ricketts's 
exacting ideal. The true c Vale Press 3 books were to be of 
his own design from cover to cover. Hacon generously 
agreed to contribute 1000 to the scheme, with some vague 
understanding as to a half-share in the profits, and the year 
1895 was devoted to preparing type, woodcut initials and 
blocks. A little shop was taken in Warwick Street, an 
obscure offshoot of Regent Street, which disappeared with 
the rebuilding of the Quadrant: Shannon painted a charm 
ing signboard of The Dial 3 to hang over die door, and the 
place was opened in the spring of 1896 with Mr. E. Le 
Breton Martin as manager. In the summer Martin found 
more remunerative work on a big daily paper and, as 

171 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1896-1903 

related elsewhere, I offered to fill the gap for the time being, 
having indeed no other employment. 

The Bibliography of the Vale Press issued by Ricketts in 
1904 renders it unnecessary to discuss the books in detail, 
especially since my primary concern was with the commer 
cial side of the venture. Concern is no inappropriate word. 
When I first came to Warwick Street, and studied the 
accounts with Macgregor, the pleasant, efficient office-boy, 
the result alarmed me. The original 1000 had all been 
spent, and I had to get another 50 forthwith from Hacon, 
merely to keep things going. Ricketts had attempted to sell 
his books in person to friendly booksellers who, after exas 
perating him by their criticisms, had extracted such dis 
counts from his helplessness as no professional publisher 
could afford. I was no trained traveller myself, but there 
was nothing for it but to make a round of the London shops, 
and reduce their allowance to a reasonable and uniform 
rate. Although a year or more passed before I could take 
a new book into a shop door without a preliminary stroll 
outside to summon up the courage to enter, the booksellers, 
for the most part, soon became friends, who actually 
appeared glad to see me, especially when the book I brought 
was sure to go Out of Print ' at once. I was greatly helped 
by the confidence of my chiefs, being allowed, for the first 
time, an absolutely free hand in finance and the details of 
negotiation; so much so that once when Ricketts, in my 
absence, wished to draw some money from Barclays, the 
Bank hesitated about cashing his cheque. They had seen 
no signature but mine. 

In spite of bright green paint and Shannon's signboard, the 
shop at Warwick Street remained rather a dismal little hole, 
though lighted occasionally by visits from Whistler, Mrs. 
Morris, still stately and sibylline in a superb old age, and 
many other well-known personages, including the present 
Chancellor of the Exchequer. Whistler wished us to become 
agents for his pictures and prints, but Ricketts managed to 
evade the proposal, fearing that any business contact between 

172 



1896-1903] THE VALE PRESS 

WMstler and myself would result in murder. We were 
always a little embarrassed by the unwashing personality of 
our landlord, a Jew tailor, and his rather formidable wife, as 
well as by lodgers of another ancient profession on the upper 
floors. When our tenancy expired in 1899, I was thankful 
to find quarters at 17 Craven Street, Strand, less accessible 
perhaps to great personages, but certainly so to minor 
irritants. 

About the same time a fire at the Ballantyne Press 
destroyed, inter alia, the woodcut initials and engraved 
decorations upon which Ricketts had spent five busy years. 
The loss was irreparable, and set a limit to what the Vale 
Press could expect to do in the future. We were insured for 
500. After studying the policy, I calculated the loss in 
two ways, one based on the actual cost of the things de 
stroyed, the other on the cost of replacement. Both came 
to within 25 of the insurance total, and in approaching the 
Fire Office I deemed it prudent to produce the former, as 
being slightly the smaller of the two. It seemed a good 
omen that the clerk summoned from a high stool to usher 
me into the managerial sanctum was none other than B. 5 
who twenty-one years earlier held third place among our 
Canterbury bullies. When the manager had inspected my 
estimate, he remarked that cost of replacement would be 
preferable as a basis for payment. But on my promptly 
producing the second detailed schedule, he decided to give 
me a cheque for the first amount, adding grimly that if we 
wished to renew the insurance he would be glad if we would 
approach some other office. 

The issue of the Vale Shakespeare entailed a contract with 
John Lane for an American edition. Lane, then and ever 
after, was particularly kind to me, but the authors and 
artists whose work he accepted or commissioned were 
emphatic as to his skill in driving a bargain* I spent a whole 
night accordingly in calculating costs, this way and that, 
and reducing the results to a shirt-cuff formula, before 
braving Lane's lunch and generous Burgundy at the Reform 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1896-1903 

Club. But when I sank replete into a soft arm-chair in the 
smoking-room, and listened drowsily to his proposals, I 
discovered to my dismay that I could not read my faint 
pencil summary. One figure, a 7, alone was legible. Stick 
ing firmly to that, as a drowning man to a raft, I evaded all 
arguments, blandishments, protests, and staggered through 
somehow to what proved a most satisfactory contract. 

The Vale Shakespeare, by the way, led to the single 
disagreement I had with my chiefs. Its issue involved so 
much extra work that I asked for an additional office-boy. 
Ricketts, usually generous almost to a fault, on this occa 
sion, as on one other connected with payments to an editor, 
proved inexplicably blind. On the previous occasion I had 
succeeded in convincing him; now I failed. He could see 
no necessity for another los. a week. Morelli, my assistant, 
was a capable fellow: we could easily do the extra work 
between us. The refusal of this trifling convenience made 
me lose my temper so completely that I gave him notice 
to leave. The conference which followed showed that he 
and Hacon had never realized, when taking the cheques 
which I sent them, how considerable their financial success 
had been, and that recently, by making two alterations in 
their programme, I had brought them an additional profit 
of 2000. When they knew the position, they promptly 
granted my request, and in addition increased my salary to 
200. Their venture had indeed proved profitable. When 
the accounts at the end of seven years were finally audited, 
it was found that the original capital had been returned to 
them more than eight times over, and that the goodwill of 
the business might fairly be valued at some 3500 in 
addition. This further profit they decided to forgo. 
Having fulfilled their purpose, the type and matrices should 
be destroyed, and the Vale Press books remain unique. 

Unique the books still appear to me in some respects. It 
is a mistake to regard them as imitations of the Kelmscott 
Press. The resemblances are few and, with the exception 
of the slightly archaic heaviness of the Vale fount, quite 



1896-1903] THE VALE PRESS 

unimportant. Ricketts himself has defined their nature and 
purpose in his own writings, but when attention returns once 
more to the revival of Printing at the end of the nineteenth 
century, men will discover that in one respect he stands 
alone, namely as a designer of woodcut borders. These 
decorations to his books based upon the wild bryony, the 
hop, the honeysuckle, the rose, the violet and the vine 
(especially on the larger scale of his 'Sir Thomas Browne '), 
have a sparkling colour and a natural grace no less personal 
to Ricketts than the classical dignity of the designs which 
introduce the Comedies and Tragedies of Shakespeare, or 
the plays of the two charming ladies who gained a well- 
merited poetic recognition as e Michael Field/ and lost it 
when the critics learned their sex and plurality. The * Avon * 
fount of the Shakespeare, too, is one of the most handsome 
and readable of modern types; it is a pity that it could not 
be excepted from the general destruction. Only in the 
coloured papers for his bindings must Ricketts admit an 
equal, a superior perhaps, in Lucien Pissaxro, whose Eragny 
Press books have a freshness and daintiness of dress which 
render them a joy to the eye. 

Ricketts would like to have completed the list of his 
favourite books with an edition of Swinburne's "Poems and 
Ballads. 3 But his application to the poet was refused, 'I 
am sorry to say that I should not wish and could not allow 
supposing my publishers to make no objection any of the 
three volumes of my "Poems and Ballads '* to be separately 
reissued in this form. 5 

Besides attending to the accounts, to the printers, and to 
the booksellers, I read all the proofs, and edited several 
texts. Over the Shakespeare proofs I got into hot water 
once or twice with the patient editor Sturge Moore; over 
a little volume of Shelley's Lyrics I did still worse, letting 
one or two ludicrous misprints go through from over 
confident familiarity. On the other hand, I believe my 
text of Apuleius, s De Cupidinis et Psyches Amoribus ' to be 
accurate, and to contain one masterly emendation of the 

175 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1896-1903 

current reading. Here the man's African Latinity com 
pelled attention to every letter. Yet the book did not go 
to press without one alarm. Hacon, who received the proofs 
in Scotland, wired to me to stop its issue. It appeared that 
he had by him only some modernized French edition, and 
until I was able to convince him that I had the better 
authority he thought my text quite insane. 

During the season, I hunted through the sale-rooms every 
week ; bidding, as occasion required, either for Ricketts and 
Shannon or for myself. To work under their critical eyes 
was in itself an education, and I was promoted to a con 
siderable degree of independence after a certain sale at 
Sotheby's, where I deliberately passed the Chinese painting 
I was commissioned to buy for them in favour of another 
which happily proved a success. A salary of 100 a year 
does not admit of extensive collecting, so that if an acquaint 
ance happened to want anything I had picked up, I was 
not above passing it on at a modest profit. For my friend 
T. B. Lews of Blackburn I made several purchases ; for 
myself I retained a few small specimens of Wilson, Constable 
and other painters whom I wished to study. 

As a test of human nature the sport of collecting is 
notorious. One of our older rivals, well-to-do, learned, and 
so refined that in Hacon's phrase *his father should have 
been a pork-butcher, 3 was famed for his meanness in small 
matters. One day he pressed me for my opinion upon a 
vivid little Constable sketch which I wanted to get and to 
study. As he had already abused my confidence once, I 
asked if he really wanted it for his own collection. He 
assured me that he did : whereupon I told him how highly 
I thought of it, and stood aside in his favour. Three days 
later it was shown to me at Carfax. Our friend, having 
bought it at the sale for three and a half guineas, had taken 
it straight round to Carfax and sold it to them for fifteen 
guineas on the strength of my guarantee. Anger made me revert 
to schoolboy methods. I told the culprit plainly that if 
he ever did anything of the kind again I should kick him, 



1896-1903] THE VALE PRESS 

and kick him very hard. To Ms credit, let it be said, he 
was not only cured, but bore me no grudge* 

Ricketts, though no less eager to acquire fine things, 

behaved differently. Once, at Christie's, I was so struck 
by the beauty of a view of Aquae Albulae, attributed to 
Wilson, that I left a commission for it to the limit of my 
funds, some 25. An hour later Ricketts appeared at 
Warwick Street, to say that he and Shannon had admired 
the picture, but finding by inquiry at Christie's that I had 
put so generous a price upon it, they had decided not to 
bid against me. Eventually I got the picture, and had just 
carried it back to Warwick Street when in walked Roger 
Fry. * Confound you/ said he, when he saw it, e l left a bid 
for that, but never thought it would fetch so much.' And 
now Colonel Grant, and most other people too, have decided 
that the object of this three-cornered competition is not by 
Wilson at all, but by J. R. Cozens. 

Though we acquired much practical knowledge we made 
no sensational finds. The sale-rooms were too carefully 
watched. Once at Foster's, in a portfolio of worthless modem 
prints, I came across a superb signed drawing by Hans 
Baldung, jammed between an engraving and its mount. I 
replaced it in its humble cache, and was commissioned by 
Ricketts to go up to 30 for the lot. The bidding started 
at ss. 6d., and rose slowly to 155. Then came a pause, but, 
before I could bid a further shilling, the contest recom 
menced. When the lot had risen to four pounds, the dealers 
round the table started sifting the rubbish, print by print. 
As the Baldung slipped from its hiding-place there was a 
roar of laughter, and the main combatants soon were re 
vealed as old Sir Charles Robinson, flicking a catalogue from 
a far comer, and my friend Mayer of Colnaghi's, nodding 
almost imperceptibly, just behind my back. The drawing 
fetched between 50 and 60. These two famous collectors 
must each have seen it, and must each have replaced it in 
obscurity, hoping, just as I did, that it would remain obscure. 

The man who failed to develop in such an environment 

177 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1896-1903 

would be a dullard indeed. To myself, fettered by false 
notions about social respectability, and blinkered by a con 
ventional public-school education, those seven years at the 
Vale Press were years of uninterrupted spiritual and visual 
deliverance. Ricketts 3 though he laughed at my obvious 
limitations (he himself was of the Henri III period ; Shannon 
was a Venetian of the Giorgione-Titian time; I was but a 
seventeenth-century Dutchman), always encouraged me by 
prophesying worldly success. In quite early days at The Vale 
I remember him saying, 'My dear boy, don't you worry! 
Some day it wiU be Sir Charles Shannon and Sir Charles 
Holmes: but it will always be Charles Ricketts.' And in 
1902, when criticizing some article of mine, he writes, 
'Millais is rather too roughly handled for the Tait Gallery 
or N.G., and knighthoods, baronetcies and art peerages, 
remember the word "perhaps," the fiction "to some/' the 
useful roar of the sucking dove usually heard in this land.' 
Such consolatory chaff I was, no doubt, the more ready to 
swallow, since my former family and commercial idols had 
proved to be rather like the image in Nebuchadnezzar's 
dream. 

In the matter of reading, my horizon had been widened 
immensely by introduction to the literature of modern 
France ; in practical aesthetics the influence of Ricketts was 
more potent still. Before I knew him my judgments had 
been rough and ready, as well as strongly biassed by common 
place handbooks. His refinement of eye and taste, his 
complete independence, did much to correct my native 
crudities, compelling much closer attention to small things, 
a weighing of spiritual and technical qualities in a nicer 
balance than any I had previously used. Gustave Moreau, 
I think, was the only artist for whom I could not share his 
admiration ; though there were several, principally English, 
for whom I could not share his dislike. 

Since their private ambitions involved an intensive study 
of the technique of oil-painting, Ricketts and Shannon 
naturally employed this technical knowledge when criticizing 

178 



1896-1903] THE VALE PRESS 

pictures, and infected me with the same interest. By talking 
over with them the condition, pigments and handling of 
works seen in galleries and sale-rooms, I gained in the course 
of a few years a foundation of practical experience which was 
afterwards to prove most helpful. Though there were dread 
ful gaps in my mental equipment, notably as a linguist, I 
was found to possess an instinctive visual memory for the 
substance and handling of any picture which I had looked 
at with attention, so that comparison with other pictures was 
made easy, and discussion, even with well-equipped authori 
ties, could be more or less confident. Unluckily this facility 
did not extend to recalling the composition of a painting. 
There any intelligent amateur still has me at a disadvantage. 
I cannot illustrate Ricketts*s personality at this time better 
than by quoting a few extracts from postcards describing his 
first impressions of Italy, which I had just previously visited 
with my friend Cripps. 

VENICE, April 30, 1899. 

I loathed Milan, all the vulgarity of a modern town and 
none of the seriousness. The Duomo rivals the Albert Memorial, 
and looks like an American organ in sugar. I hated P. Veronese, 
and loathed Tintoretto's livid bosh : so far I think T. the most 
beastly artist in the world. 

We arrived at Venice in a charming silver evening and were 
enchanted and surprised, even Canaletto is too spotty. The 
Doge's Palace looked like bleached coral, and S. Mark's like 
bleached roman glass. So far we have only seen the Doge's 
Palace and I have never seen anything so ghastly in the way of 
decorative paintings. The Battle of Lepanto by P. V. with the 
woman in silver satin is good, but his big ceiling and Tintoretto 
simply appalled me. I shall live in the Gondolas if Venetian 
painting is like that. I hope Ballantyne and W.S. (Warwick Street) 
have both burnt down and that we may foreclose on insurances. 

VENICE, May 5th, 1899. 

Our loathing for Tintoret is subsiding (C. H. S. says NO). I 
think we have got hardened. In the Accademia the S. Mark 
is good ordinary colour, his other pictures frightful. I dislike 
Veronese but on a different plane. Bellini though stands any 
light and condition; his masterpiece at the Frari should be 

179 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1896-1903 

hung in Paradise. I think you were tired in Venice, and when 
the weather darkens even I wish to get back home. I fear that 
you have no heart; you were unkind to Carpaccio he fascinates 
us, though a coarse painter, very unequal, and fearfully patched, 
damaged and repainted. The dear little dark church of S. 
Georgio where he is only dirty has become a sort of home for us. 
The gondolas drive me mad. Don't tell anyone but I have 
discovered a very important portrait by Lotto in the Accademia, 
where it is skyed and given to Cariana. I was absolutely staggered 
on seeing the Raphael sketch-book to find that barring some 
washes added later each and every drawing was by Raphael and 
not by Perugino Pinturicchio Raphael etc. The hands, the feet, 
the ears, the face traits are aU, like the quality of the pen-stroke, 
identical in each. 3 Yours, C. S. R. 

If you don't write to me I shall bring you a set of Tintoret. 

VENICE, May 15, 1899. 

My dear boy, I shall bring you back a collection of Veronese, 
if the Crucifixion of the Accademia is a picture you like. I 
imagine you mean the S. Rocco picture. I can't believe that 
you who wash and often speak the truth could possibly like the 
Accademia picture. It looks like guts. I had rather come round 
to Tinto in a cowardly sort of way, having given up the smallest 
affectation of cleanliness. . . . We have quite fallen in love with 
a dear old buggins we meet here in the smoking-room every 
evening ; he is the author of Steele's book on Penelope (i.e. the 
book he wanted us to read). He is fanatic of the primitives and 
hates Tinto. S. says this word is too long. I hope you did not 
miss the late Bellini at S. Jovanni Crisostomo? S. thinks it 
almost the best picture in Venice. I am thinking of asking B. 2 
to let me write him a book on Carpaccio. I tell you this to 
prevent Crips from having the job. I am sure he liked Carpaccio 
better than you did. I hope you have been mixing paints for 
M. F. and that T. did not get his picture. Yours respectfully, 

C. S. R. 

MILANO, CHIASSO, May 23, 1899. 

We scamped Verona, and funked Brescia to escape Civico 
museums, and are howling for the Louvre and its well-preserved 
pictures. I think Venice should be done in 3 or 4 days, the rest 

1 This was, and is, my own conviction. 

2 The B., presumably, stands for Samuel Butler. M. F., of course, is Michael 
Field, for whom I was doing some dog-caricatures. T.'s picture I have for 
gotten. 

1 80 



1896-1903] THE VALE PRESS 

is vexation. Padua was a revelation, that is Mantegna was as 
good as he should be, Giotto much better than I imagined, he 

is one of the great impressions I have received in my fife. The 
Chapel of S. Giorgio a revelation also. We had ourselves locked 

in for i hour each day, just as if we were Mr. Ruskin. Verona 
is worth seeing. Ask Bynion if the little Pisanello Madonna in 
Civico is known, I consider it one of the most representative 

pictures I have seen in Italy; my local photograph is marked 
Zaevio, and as the Morelli crew have done Verona, this may 

be their funny little way. Padua contains a magnificent Anto- 
nello da Messina unmentioned by Baedeker Behrenson. I find 
my Piero of the Poldi is called Fra Carnevale, a supposed pupil 

of his, who is known now never to have existed. It is curious 
how many points in attribution in London have become simplified 
by the utter collapse of the squirts to whom good pictures are 
attributed. I agree with you the Bonifazios are I think the 
first must have had as many uncles as you, only they all painted? 

It is amusing to contrast these judgments with those of a 
non-painter, my friend Glutton-Brock, who visited Venice 
four years later. The future art critic of the 'Times 3 
writes : 

VENICE, 27 March 1903. 

I have seen a lot of pictures and must have a long talk with 
you when I get back. I suppose I am not quite well balanced 
enough yet to appreciate pictures properly at present, but my 
opinions are rather different from what I expected. I can't 
stand Titian here at aH, especially the Assumption, a most 
common machine, I think (' The Assunta,* says Ricketts s 
* knocked us fiat with admiration *), always excepting the 
Deposition, that last picture of his in the Academy, which is 
one of the two or three greatest pictures I have ever seen 
(Ricketts does not mention it!). Tintoret much finer than I 
expected, surely all round the most wonderful of all painters, 
especially in colour, at his best, Cain and Abel, Miracle of S. 
Mark, Crucifixion in the Academy, . . . John Bellini a little 
disappointing, rather timid and narrow, and perhaps a little 
stupid. Carpaccio hardly a serious painter except in little bits, 
no idea of making a picture. 

My own first impressions are recorded in the next 

chapter. 

181 



CHAPTER XI 
ROCHE'S 

(1896-1903) 

New ways of life; financial anxieties; two barrister cousins; 
writing for the 'Dome*; the company at Roche's; the 
* Athenaeum * ; cases of hubris ; Conder at Dieppe ; visit to 
Italy; its effect upon painting; boxing and fishing. 

A PROTEST to an Income Tax surveyor reveals receipts for 
the year 1896-7 amounting to 63, 43. lod. The 60 pre 
sumably represents my salary from the Vale Press: the 
balance my earnings from art and literature. On such a 
sum it was no good trying to live as I had done hitherto. 
Relinquishing top-hat and tail-coat; relinquishing my 
panelled rooms in Cowley Street, my attic-studio and my 
etching-press, I found quarters at the top of a condemned 
house, standing alone in Millbank Street on the spot now 
occupied by Rodin's Burghers of Calais. The side- walls were 
propped with vast shores of grimy timber ; at the back a 
steam-crane on the river-bank made the crazy structure 
quiver from morning to night ; an arc-lamp over the crane 
sizzled and flared just outside my garret window, rendering 
any other light unnecessary. This garret, two unfurnished 
rooms below and willing attendance, all for 8s. 6d. a week, 
suited my pocket no less exactly than rny habits. 

I soon learned to sleep under the glare of the arc-lamp, in 
a bed vibrating with the rattle of the crane. When the sun 
blazed over the wide prospects of the river in the morning, 
I could shift my cheap easel to the room opposite, and take 
it back again later. The place was kept clean ; my boiled 
egg or bacon breakfast was admirably served; I was in 
touch with my friends in Cowley Street, and had done with 
the need for keeping up appearances. Dinner remained the 

182 



1896-1903] ROCHE'S 

formidable problem, Kirk's ham-and-beef-shop in the Hay- 
market being the nearest thing to a solution. There for 
is. 2d., or sometimes is. 4d., the pangs of hunger could be 
alleviated ; the monotony of the wholesome fare being some 
check upon natural appetite. The Gourmet's restaurant, 
behind Leicester Square, was more famous ; but its dinners 
a la carte had a way of mounting up to ss. or more, and so 
could only be enjoyed by those who were richer than I. 

The ever-present menace of liability to my cousin and my 
mother seemed to demand the saving of every penny ; yet 
once, for a few months, that menace was sensibly diminished. 
At Richmond my mother had shown some kindness to the 
wife and daughters of a mining prospector in New Zealand. 
Lighting at last upon a seven-foot lode of auriferous quartz, 
he sent the news to his wife, who in gratitude passed it on 
to my mother. We put our little all into the mine ; up went 
the shares in due course, and only the imbecility of an 
acquaintance in the City (why do we assume every City 
man to be a financial Solomon?) to whom I entrusted the 
business, prevented a sale at a handsome profit. Then the 
lode was lost in some volcanic disturbance of the strata, 
and could never be rediscovered. My prudent mother just 
got clear : I myself, after seeing a profit of several hundred 
pounds, was some 50 to the bad, though I gained an 
experience which has possibly saved me from worse disaster. 

Having cut the last tie connecting me with the ordinary 
publishing trade, I felt bound to regulate my position with 
my cousin. I had so long regarded him, with good reason, 
as an intimate, generous and wholly trustworthy friend, that 
I could not comprehend the difference between his original 
promise to me, and the terms of its performance when I 
wished to enter Nimmo's business. I got him accordingly 
to come and see me at Warwick Street, asking him plainly 
across the counter whether I had done anything to displease 
him. He said 'No/ and seemed surprised at the question. 
How then, I went on, was I to understand the discrepancy 
between an advance either without interest or at a nominal 

183 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1896-1903 

rate, and a proposal equivalent to interest at eight per cent.? 
He reddened a little, and replied that he saw no particular 
discrepancy. The answer made me laugh. 'We see things 
differently/ said 1, shook his hand, and was never afraid of 
Mm again. e A comical limb of Mammon ' was the comment 
of the one friend to whom I confided the interview. 

But the friend was wrong. My cousin still retained the 
element of greatness which seven years before had made me 
his devoted servant and admirer. A few months later he 
wrote to me to say that he was altering his will ; that I had 
been named as one of his executors, but, since there was now 
no business to be disposed of, executors were no longer 
needed. Perhaps 1000 now would be of more service to 
me than a larger legacy in the future? I had no false pride 
about accepting a gift which reinstated an old friend, 
reduced my liabilities to an amount I could contemplate 
without panic, and so cured me of my 'poor relation' 
complex that I could thenceforth treat comments upon that 
topic as they deserved. All the same, as one tramped home 
sometimes on a wet evening, still hungry, and constantly 
splashed by the carriages of the prosperous, it was easy to 
pardon and experience the resentment of a Communist. 

Another victim of family pleasantries often shared our 
scanty dinners. My cousin D. was the unpaid devil of a 
well-known K.C., but Ms private means were running out, 
and, without further backing, he would soon have to give 
up the bar. Once when he earned eight guineas by writing 
two chapters of another man's book (I got a sovereign myself 
for writing the preface), D. confessed that the amount was 
more than he had earned in two years in the Temple. At 
this critical stage in Ms fortunes he had the Barmecidal 
entertainment of dining with his uncle, and helping him 
afterwards to settle up his affairs before he started on a 
tour round the world. The settlement included the posting 
to various charities of sfeven cheques of 1000 apiece by 
the impecunious nephew, who was compelled in due course 
to abandon the English bar when Ms last sMlling had gone. 

184 



1896-1903] ROCHE'S 

D. s s exceptional knowledge of law, however, did me one 
signal service. In exchanging our personal and family 
difficulties he learned of my financial trouble, probed it 
minutely in his lodgings one evening, and at the end of 
three hours delivered a judgment contrary to that of my 
legal advisers. This saved me from a heavy additional 
liability. 

In the end, I am glad to say, D. completely disappointed 
the affectionate expectations of the family. A junior uncle 
enabled him to go abroad, and thereby finally to obtain a 
minor judicial post, in a provincial town on another con 
tinent. There he duly performed his humble duties, until 
one of his judgments was challenged and reversed by the 
High Court of the country. D., never addicted to com 
promise, threw caution to the winds, protested, and sent in 
a reasoned defence of his own legal accuracy, quoting the 
appropriate acts and authorities. Receiving no reply, he 
concluded that he had cut his own throat, and resigned him 
self to permanent oblivion. A year or so later he was 
abruptly summoned to headquarters. A judgeship in an 
important court had become vacant. He was not only 
selected for the post, which he has held ever since with 
distinction, but was actually supported in his candidature 
by those whom he had criticized, against the Home authori 
ties, who would naturally have liked to appoint a man of 
their own to such a desirable place. 

The academic successes of another barrister cousin, Walter 
Clay, had so generally been held up for my emulation in 
youth, that I came to regard Ms name with loathing. But 
the moment I met him in person at Trinity, where he was 
reading for a Fellowship, dislike changed to affection. At 
the bar his learning, combined with immense energy and 
good humour, carried him rapidly forward: his strong 
political instincts (he was an Asquithian Liberal) marked 
him out early as a coming Parliamentary figure. At his 
mother's house at Watford I could dispute with his clever 
Cambridge friends, and meet his uncle Sir John Gorst, most 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1896-1903 

outspoken and independent of ministers, who did not con 
ceal his satisfaction at escaping Gladstone's funeral by riding 
out on a push-bike for tea with his sister. Clay's width of 
interests, covering pictures, architecture, literature, philo 
sophy and mountaineering, coupled with a searching com 
bative humour, made him the very best of company. His 
desire to test every new theory by practical experience once 
led to a laughable result. As we were slogging along a very- 
dirty road near Watford, I happened to tell him how I had 
read of a way of defeating a man who had got your head 
'into Chancery. 3 In a second, without warning (he was 
over six feet high and broadly built), he had my head down 
in Ms iron grip. I tried the book-learned trick; and lo! 
Clay collapsed abruptly into the mud at my side, remarking, 
'Well! That seems quite satisfactory.* A year or two 
later all the high hopes we had of him came to an end, 
for he lost his life, with four other climbers, on the Gran 
Paradiso. 

My first efforts at increasing a scanty income were directed 
at the 'Westminster Gazette. 5 That enterprising, if politic 
ally misguided, journal would accept outside contributions ; 
my friend Cripps once received a guinea, I believe, for quite 
a short poem. 1 I could not rise to more than paragraphs of 
current art gossip, which I provided, until the receipt of a 
postal order for is. iod., ' in payment for one month's contri 
butions/ taught me that I was no journalist. My next experi 
ment had better luck. Our little company at Kirk's was 
munching its boiled beef one evening, when in came Binyon 
with great news, A pastry-cook in Soho had started a first- 
rate table- d'hote dinner for eighteen pence, with a twopenny 
tip besides for the waiter. The others were for immediate 
migration. I hesitated. The price was too high for my 
finances. To prove his case, Binyon offered to stand me a 
dinner. I still hesitated. Then he said, c You know some 
thing about Hiroshige. Write an article about him for the 

1 Since published, with other poems, in *The Magic Grape* (London: 
G. Bell; 1924). 

186 



1896-1903] ROCHE'S 

"Dome" and make two guineas. That will last yon there 
for months/ So I came to Roche's and to writing. 

The 'Dome/ a new monthly, was edited and mostly 
written, under various pseudonyms, by that versatile jour 
nalist E. J. Oldmeadow, to whom Binyon, from his know 
ledge of art and letters, was a welcome adjutant. As I had 
never before composed an article, that essay on Hiroshige 
was solemnly written and rewritten five times over before I 
ventured to send in the MS. Then a miraculous chance 
intervened. I had signed the article c Charles Holmes, 5 and 
the name was mistaken by an influential reviewer for that of 
Mr. Charles Holme, well known as a prominent member of 
the Japan Society, and as editor-proprietor of the 'Studio/ 
In consequence, when the little article appeared in the third 
number of the 'Dome ' on Michaelmas Day 1897, ** received 
a column of praise in the Sphere, 3 and derivative notices 
elsewhere, which encouraged Oldmeadow to give me further 
employment. I could thenceforth join without apprehension 
the little company which gathered at Roche's. 

Roche was a charming fellow and a first-class chef, his 
gateaux mocha his masterpieces, his smiling wife an adroit 
manager. They thoroughly understood the art of making 
their clients comfortable. * I have a little sea-trout to-night, 3 
Roche would whisper. c It is not on the menu. 3 The eighteen- 
penny dinner of hors-d'oeuvres, soup, fish or eggs, entree or 
joint, sweet or cheese might be thus sensibly enriched for the 
habitual guest, and, alone among restaurants of its kind, 
each table was furnished with jugs of water, so that no one, 
unless he chose, need go to the expense of sending out for 
beer, or for LorioFs wines. The visible part of the establish 
ment in Old Compton Street consisted in those days of a 
pastry-cook's window, a pay-desk, three small tables, a round 
table and a long table. The small tables were for couples 
and family parties ; the round table was left to those who, 
like Max Beerbohm, might wish to be apart with friends; 
the long table was the rendezvous for the rest of us, so much 
so that the presence of any stranger, particularly near the 

187 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1896-1903 

head of it, was felt to be an intrusion. Indeed the table 
quickly came to be an informal club, to which admission 
could be gained only by personal introduction, or by discreet 
waiting * on approval 3 below the salt. 

The genial R. A. Streatfeild of the British Museum, 
musical critic of the 'Daily Graphic/ was quickly marked 
out as the social centre and arbiter of our little company. 
Binyon was its most definite man of letters, though Richard 
Steele, the Baconian, Oswald Barron, wit and antiquary, 
Edgar Jepson the novelist, Mr. and Mrs. Voynich, and at 
least half the other members, had literary work or connexions. 
I particularly recall one evening when Binyon brought in a 
tall, bronzed young man in blue serge, with a grave quiet 
manner, whom he introduced to us as John Masefield the 
sailor-poet. Another notable figure was W. B. Thomas, the 
handsome editor of the e Vegetarian * but no bigot in his own 
dietary, whom I recognized, on his appearance, as having 
bowled me first ball on the Christ Church ground at Oxford. 
He had a nasty trick of flighting a slowish ball which would, 
I am sure, have won him distinction as a cricketer, if his 
athletic prowess in other fields had allowed him the time. 
Laurence Weaver, then a bright-eyed young Irvingite agent 
for patent window-frames; Arthur Cochrane, the Herald, 
then a wine-merchant and playwright; Randall Davies, 
master of the Limerick and secretary to the millionaire 
Pulitzer; J. D. Hoare, musical critic of the 'Globe*; tall 
and courtly 'Count' Morgan; merry Cloudesley Brereton; 
Dr. Fowler the zoologist; 'The Turtle-man, 3 scholar and 
cricketer; 'The Cobra-man/ master of jiu-jitsu; JaUand, 
the portly manager to Marie Tempest ; Arthur Lowry and 
George Calderon, with Cripps, Vaux, Dobson and other 
personal friends, were also more or less constant diners. 
Gay Cecil Brewer and quiet Dunbar Smith introduced us to 
the real truth about architectural c competitions ' ; Sydney 
Greenslade aired his passion for Martin-ware. Wyndham 
Lewis, with his romantic face, his crumpled, gloomy sonnets 
and fine Slade-School drawings, gave a touch of youthful 

188 



1896-1903] ROCHE'S 

force and purpose to a general scheme of light-hearted 

middle-age. Miss May Morris, Ernest Thesiger, the Strangs, 
and the Holroyds came fairly often; other artists less fre 
quently, Constance Collier was a familiar spectacle, though 
not of our company; Esterhazy, of Dreyfus fame, and 
Whistler made experimental visits. 

That table at Roche's was an ideal place over which to 
swop experiences, and pick up any little job that might be 
vacant, or be invented by Binyon, who had always a wonder 
ful eye for the needs of a friend. The prey, or the parasites 3 
of impecunious editors and minor publishers, we were no 
doubt a commonplace lot compared with the more rakish 
and conspicuous personages who frequented 'The Crown 5 
and 'The Cafe Royal.* We could not afford such dissipa 
tions, being thankful if we could supplement, by occasional 
work at night, the small salaries we earned by day in offices 
or museums. 

Streatfeild and Hoare, in the course of their musical 
duties, were able to take me with them to hear Tchaikovsky 
and other novelties of the time; sometimes even to the 
Opera, though the gallery there was my more common 
experience. Thus my education progressed in more ways 
than one, but that which I received from Shannon and 
Ricketts remained predominant. They impressed upon me 
far more than the details of critical theory and practice, 
compelling me to think about larger questions, the ideal 
management of Museums and Picture-Galleries ; the future 
of the art-treasures still remaining in English private collec 
tions, and the best means of protecting them against the 
enterprise of Germany and against American wealth. In 
their foresight upon these matters they were some five years 
or more ahead of their time. Hence, when I had to tackle 
the problem later, its factors were familiar; its proper 
solution more difficult than doubtful. 

During these last years of the century, Society, which had 
previously been exclusive and stately, threw off the restraints 
of Victorianism, took the millionaire to its bosom, and grew 

180 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1896-1903 

more and more extravagant. The results quickly became 
apparent. The plutocrat might oblige with an occasional 
stock-exchange tip, but in return he set a standard of living 
which most of his new associates could not afford, and were 
too proud or too silly to reject. So one after another the 
owners of great estates and private collections found them 
selves embarrassed, even before Sir William Harcourt's 
Death Duties had brought them face to face with ruin. 
The resulting drain of works of art from England at first 
attracted little notice : to the authorities of the National 
Gallery it appeared to be quite unknown. Home's attacks 
on the Gallery were chiefly devoted to criticism of the 
Director, Sir Edward Poynter, and his purchases. George 
Moore in the 'Speaker' and D. S. MacColl in the 'Spec 
tator/ the most vigorous figures in contemporary art- 
journalism, were engaged in championing the Impressionists 
and young painters like Steer against a Royal Academy 
suffering from cerebral sclerosis, Claude Phillips alone, 
in the 'Daily Telegraph/ seemed aware of the national 
danger, but, having social connexions which he valued, 
was too cautious to say in print all that he thought in 
private. 

Meanwhile I carried my study of Japanese art to the 
point of trying to learn the language, and in 1899 published 
in * The Artists' Library J (Unicorn Press) a little book on 
Hokusai. A move to get me a place in the Oriental Depart 
ment at South Kensington followed, but came to nothing. 
Our family friend, John Gorst, was too honest. The 
'Hokusai/ having met with a success second only to that 
of Roger Fry's 'Bellini, 3 was followed by a companion 
volume on Constable. To this I devoted an amount of 
work disproportionate to its length, visiting Constable's 
haunts, and making voluminous notes which soon were 
turned to account. The indefatigable Binyon, being asked 
by Constable and Co. to write a much larger book on the 
artist, with his habitual generosity passed on the chance to 
me. Thus, soon after my small book had appeared in 1901, 

190 



1896-1903] ROCHE'S 

I was engaged upon another which occupied me for nearly 
two years. 

For some time, too, I had been making essays in journal 
ism, as art critic for the 4 Realm ' and other weeklies of brief 
existence and uncertain finance. At the end of the century 
I was offered permanent work on the * Athenaeum* as the 
junior colleague of Roger Fry. 4 The kind of thing that 
nobody outside a lunatic asylum could read. Golly ! What 
a paper ! ' wailed Mr. John Finsbury. Yet in the 'nineties 
the 'Athenaeum ' with its gravity, its anonymity and its un 
questionable scholarship, was a real power. All publishers, 
and on their advertisements the paper chiefly depended, 
recognized that a favourable review in the c Athenaeum ' 
meant success for any new book. F. G. Stephens, the Pre- 
Raphaelite, had been its art critic, but his duties had 
recently been transferred to Fry, already conspicuous as the 
champion of traditional methods and ideals, as opposed to 
new importations from France. 

Fry confined himself almost entirely to the field of his 
own interests, the Old Masters of the Continental Schools. 
British Painting in general, and the Moderns (whom Fry- 
disliked) fell to my share, so that I seldom lacked material. 
Moreover, Fry's fine sense of style set an exacting standard. 
All being strictly anonymous, it was essential that there 
should be no glaring discrepancies in presentation, and I 
was flattered when Miss Fry confessed that she had mistaken 
one of my articles for her brother^ writing. Vernon Rendall 
made a charming editor, trusting us completely ; Sir Charles 
Dilke, the proprietor, entertained the staff occasionally at 
dinners in Sloane Street, dinners no less solemn than 
elegant. Altogether these occupations, and the two or three 
pounds a week by which they increased my income, gradu 
ally swept away the self-obsession and fears of failure which 
had haunted me since 1890. By the end of the century one 
could snap one's fingers at family disapproval. 

In narrow lodgings in Barton Street, Westminster, and 
more freely in Markham Square, Chelsea, I messed away at 

191 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1896-1903 

oil-painting for several years with no apparent success. 
Perhaps the sombre tones of Van Goyen and Ruysdael, of 
Wilson and J. R. Cozens, reflected my outlook upon life. 
Anyhow, I became a dull and rather gloomy little painter, 
relying unwisely upon raw umber as a general medium for 
fusing more positive colours, in ignorance of that attractive 
pigment's habit of eating up anything else that may be 
painted into it, especially when both have been freely 
tempered with linseed oil. The few relics of that period, 
in consequence, are now dark canvases, almost uniformly 
brown, with hardly a trace of the brighter colours by which 
they had once been animated. All this futile labour may 
have taught me something about composition and execu 
tion : it did me no other service. 

My holiday memories are more cheerful. Roche's, for 
example, played a cricket-match against Pinner, which pro 
vided a comic illustration of the doctrine of hubris. In the 
brake from the station, our champion cricketer (M.C.C. and 
all that) began, as unaccountably as unmercifully, to chaff 
the most awkward of our recruits on the pretty figure he 
would soon be cutting. Cripps and I, having reverence for 
the gods, recognized that the scoffer was 'fey. 5 Pinner 
started by making runs off the solemn slows of George 
Calderon (clad in a wondrous gray undervest instead of a 
shirt), until W. B. Thomas and Streatfeild came on to bowl 
them out. Roche's team fared more disastrously; Streat 
feild alone reaching double figures. The M.C.C. crack was 
bowled for duck (fast balls on a village pitch are no respecters 
of greatness), but continued his chaff until the pallid victim, 
equipped with various borrowed properties, had stumped 
out to bat. He proved no unsuspected W. G. but, though he 
generally failed to touch the ball, the ball invariably failed 
to touch his wicket. Three catches in succession did he 
spoon up : all three were missed. Then the gods sent him a 
half-volley which he smote till it came banging against the 
pavilion. That was too much for the scoffer ; he faded away 
into the background. StreatfeiLd's score had been equalled 

192 



1896-1903] ROCHE'S 

and the match almost won, when madness seemed to descend 
upon the recruit himself. He rushed out for a supreme slog, 
and was duly bowled by a shooter. The gods had sufficiently 
vindicated their objection to human pride. 

This trivial incident was recalled two years later by certain 
preliminaries to the Boer War. Misgiving started with the 
casual talk of a Guardsman in a country house : c he had no 
intention of roughing it, and was taking out a comfortable 
bed. The whole thing would be over in five or six weeks. 3 
His ostentatious confidence filled me with forebodings, which 
were soon made infinitely more acute by the vainglorious 
idiocy of the popular Press. It was sickening to see a cam 
paign in which victory could bring us no credit, against a 
people whose fighting record we had reason to respect, being 
treated with such insane presumption. The news of disaster 
which came in week after week at once confirmed my fears 
and relieved them a little, owing to its prompt effect upon 
the national temper. By admitting our mistakes, by accept 
ing our humiliations, we gradually seemed to avert the anger 
of the gods and were saved from a second Syracuse. Now 
adays I feel that it would be rather unkind of Providence to 
punish a whole nation for the sham patriotism of its Press, 
and the boasts of a few talkers ; unless taking such follies 
too seriously be the one unpardonable sin. 

The Diamond Jubilee of 1897 was spent with Cripps in 
Dorset, a bonfire on Mdbury Beacon being the climax of the 
local dissipations. Remaining by it, after the other revellers 
had left and the flames were dying down, we became aware 
that the heart of the blaze had been a great can of oil, still 
glowing almost white-hot among the piled embers. A frenzy 
came upon us. Seizing the largest available brands, we 
braved the fire, turned the can over, gradually pushed or 
levered it into the open, and thence to the edge of the beacon 
hill. Once started on its downward career the glowing 
cylinder progressed with a series of most satisfactory leaps 
and bounds into the darkness below 3 and we felt we had 
finished our Jubilee well, I woke next day with some 

193 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1896-1903 

qualms, but inquiry proved that the only victim seemed to 
have been a rustic, who was sleeping it off under a gorse 
bush, and was frightened almost out of his wits when the 
fiery mass came hurtling by. 

In the following spring I went to stay with the Hacons 
at Dieppe. The day started with a douche, and it fell to my 
lot to get Conder, my fellow-guest, out of bed for the 
ceremony. A corner of his room was piled nearly three feet 
high with empty soda-water bottles. As he stood stripped, 
and the cold jet kneaded the muscles of his back, he made 
a magnificent figure, very like a graceful edition of the 
Choiseul-Gouffier 'Apollo. 3 So well-built indeed was he 
that, when we went out together in the morning and he 
suggested that we should box at the Casino, I was just a 
little nervous that he might prove too strong for me. At the 
Casino we drew blank; "but when I casually mentioned our 
visit to Hacon, he was horrified, saying c Thank God ! Don't 
you realize that if you had really hit him once you would 
probably have killed him? He has no inside left.' 

Conder's dreamy charm rendered him a fascinating com 
panion. Our rambles from one cafe to another brought us 
finally to a tiny curiosity shop, where Conder stood by the 
window, absorbed in contemplating a scrap of old silver 
brocade. 'When I have learned the colour of that, I shall 
turn it into a fan' was the explanation. Further talk led 
him to ask to see my sketch-book. 'You draw with your 
head,' was his comment, 'you would do better if you could 
learn to trust to your hand.' I tried the experiment quickly, 
but did not continue it, since the results appeared to lose in 
substance as much as they gained (and the gain was undeni 
able) in artistic effect. 

Proceeding to call on the Thaulow family, recently im 
mortalized by Jacques Blanche, and imbibing further 
liqueurs in the garden, I was introduced to a silent blond- 
bearded giant, bigger even than the genial Thaulow 
Christian Krogh, the Norwegian painter, a personage of 
some standing in his own country, who, the legend went, had 



1896-1903] ROCHE'S 

killed a man, and so had come abroad for his health. They 
all came to dinner with the Hacons In the evening. Conder 
was late and, on entering the room, discovered that the mass 
of violets in the middle of the table reminded him of a grave. 
Seizing them with both hands he scattered them between us 
in little swathes and bunches, as effective as one of his own 
decorative panels, and then entertained us all for the rest 
of the evening in Ms unique Dionysiac fashion, the most 
trivial of sayings and doings being redeemed by an inimit 
able grace, as if some inspired Pagan divinity were struggling 
to break through the frail mortal envelope. 

The interval before I returned on the following day was 
devoted to golf. Hacon and I, after an early lunch, were to 
play the Vice- Consul and some soldier friend. Hacon and 
the Vice-Consul lunched so well that the match started as 
a comic single, between the soldier and myself. Just as I 
began to tire, about half-way round, Hacon recovered his 
eye and pulled us through triumphantly, cooling my self- 
satisfaction by pointing out the Sussex 5 tossing on her way 
to the harbour, and predicting the worst of crossings for me. 
All the party came to see me off, including a pale and 
draggled Ernest Dowson, upon whom the Vice-Consul had 
to turn a blind eye. I did not take the prescription (Conder's) 
which Hacon recommended, Get drunk and keep drunk, 5 
though the sea and wind became more and more violent; 
yet by taking brandy and water after each paroxysm, I found 
myself at the end of an hour to be one of the very few on 
board who could walk about unconcerned in the welter. 

In the autumn I had more golf with the Hacons at 
Domoch, and found in the russet and emerald of the Scottish 
mountains a splendour I had never seen upon English hills. 
But all these pleasant memories were soon eclipsed by a 
jcumey to Italy in the spring of 1899. Having neither too 
much time nor much money, Cripps and I again prepared 
for it with transatlantic method, reading Dante, D'Annunzio 
and a Conversation-book, and working out a chart of each 
day's programme with a Continental Bradshaw, the plans 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1896-1903 

in Baedeker, and advice from Ricketts, who had not as yet 
visited Italy, as to the things we had to see. 

Switzerland proved to be clad in chilly clouds, under 
which the snow-clad -rocks of Pilatus, the peak of the Mythen, 
and the huge mass of the Bristenstock loomed impressive as 
we passed them. But when, from the stuffy confinement of 
the St. Gothard tunnel, the train suddenly burst into the 
glittering snows and afternoon splendour of the Ticino 
Valley, our highest hopes were fulfilled. Gliding down past 
Biasca and Bellinzona we felt that we were indeed in Turner's 
Italy, and when we had trudged ankle-deep in dust to our 
hotel in Milan not even the disgusting sweetness of Asti 
Spumante could spoil that gorgeous recollection. At 
Parma we landed on a Good Friday, to find the Gallery 
closed. As we stood in despair before the door, a small 
Italian boy, noticing our disappointment, offered to run and 
fetch the keeper for us. We could not hope much from his 
good offices, but there was nothing else to do but accept 
them, since we had already seen the churches. To our sur 
prise the boy returned very shortly, bringing the keeper with 
him. The Gallery was specially opened for us, and our 
delight in Correggio's 'Giorno* (was there ever a more 
wonderful piece of painting than S. Catherine's head and 
left arm?) was equalled only by our gratitude for the 
Italian good-nature which had come so opportunely to our 
rescue. It was the first of many small kindnesses with which 
we met: the English had not then been superseded in 
popular favour by the Germans. 

Bologna with its arcades, its leaning towers, its other 
architectural surprises, its excellent sculptures and soup, 
seemed an ideal Italian city. Florence involved days of real 
hard work. Herbert Home very kindly took us in hand, 
introducing us to buried, battered frescoes, the only music- 
hall, and to the white-washed fiaschetteria Barile, with its 
great swinging flasks of first-rate Chianti, and its excellent 
cooking, at prices worthy of Roche himself. No wonder 
things were cheap ! The wages of a Florentine postman at 

196 



1896-1903] ROCHE'S 

this time were seven lire a week. Among the works of art, 
the varied magnificence of Fra Angelico, Botticelli and 
Verrocchio was the chief surprise; GHrlandajo, who had 
seemed so effective in photography, the chief disappoint 
ment. Michelangelo, of course, stood alone. When we 
compared notes at the end of a week with my aunt, _ Miss 
Holmes, and the PapiUons, who were living on the Lungamo, 
we found that on the whole we had seen more of Florence 
than its regular winter inhabitants. 

A short visit to Siena left one abiding impression. On the 
white walls of the little Gallery there, paintings in tempera 
lost their accustomed pallor and showed up with unexpected 
richness. Nearly thirty years later 1 had an opportunity of 
utilizing this impression, when preparing the first room in 
the National Gallery to receive our Primitives. Brassy skies 
made the buildings of Venice look more like T. B. Hardy 
than Canaletto or Turner, but the Vino di Verona was 
excellent, and inspired us to queer mutual confidences. 
Titian, always excepting the big Pietd, proved an absolute 
disappointment; Tintoretto disconcertingly unequal, with 
tempting flashes of light and colour, Veronese mostly rather 
stodgy, Carpaccio amusing, Bellini always beautiful and, at 
S. Giovanni Crisostomo, supreme. Tiepolo too was a most 
refreshing novelty among so much that was either over-ripe 
or over-cleaned. I mention these impressions, because I 
have recorded already those felt about the same time by 
Ricketts and by Clutton-Brock. 

In our Verona-hotel we found Thaulow. He was paint 
ing the famous bridge, and impressed us after dinner by a 
discourse on the virtue of simple, absolute sincerity in art. 
Returning at midday across the aforesaid bridge, we saw 
him on the shingle below, his painting materials still un 
packed, while he wrestled with a huge camera. I had 
always been puzzled by the accuracy with which he repre 
sented reflections in water. The reason was now made 
plain ; plainer than his idea of sincerity. When we reached 
the church of SS. Nazzaro e Celso, the chapel containing 

197 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1896-1903 

the noble paintings by Montagna was filled with a funeral 
cortege. To our dismay, the sacristan rushed into the crowd 
of mourners, sweeping them this way and that to make a 
passage for us to the panels, which were lying on the ground 
by the altar. After this disgrace, we were only half-shocked 
at Brescia, where a chair was brought so that we might climb 
up on to the altar itself, regardless of the worshippers, and 
examine Titian's Resurrection. 

The high city of Bergamo was invisible under torrents of 
rain, but a tiny restaurant close to the Gallery, filled with 
friendly shepherds in great blue cloaks, provided cutlets and 
such Verona wine that my usual faculty of memorizing 
pictures was completely ruined for the day. Almost all that 
I remember in those interesting galleries is a little white- 
haired Englishman, who engaged me in a critical discussion. 
This was rapidly degenerating into a dispute when he was 
carried off to safety by a large majestic lady. Later, the time 
came for us to sign our names in the visitors' book, and the 
previous entry read 'Alfred Austin.' 

If I have spoken of this little tour in too much detail, I 
must be forgiven; yet the effects, as I look back upon it, 
were considerable. In the first place it enabled me to collate 
and to modify what I had been learning from photographs 
and written criticism (Morelli was now giving place to 
Berenson), and by giving me a solid technical foundation for 
studying the Giorgione-Titian period, with which artistic 
taste was then largely concerned. But the chief service, not 
at once apparent, that the sight of Italy rendered, was to 
release me gradually from preoccupation with the ideas of 
chiaroscuro which had kept me a murky painter. The re 
collection of that first long afternoon in the sunlit Ticino 
Valley was, I think, more potent than the effect of any 
picture or group of pictures ; remaining at the back of the 
mind as a vision of transcendent light and colour, which 
might, with luck, some day be realized upon canvas. 

The period of transition naturally produced some queer 
products. I still possess a little painting of A Barn near 

198 



1896-1903] ROCHE'S 

Cobham, which Carfax attempted to sell for me. It caught 
Sir Edward Poynter's eye, as he browsed round their estab 
lishment with Robbie Ross. Who is that by?' he asked. 
Oh! that's by Holmes/ was the answer. Holmes? 
Holmes ? * said the Director of the National Gallery. * When 
did he die?* Liberation first came in 1900, after Cripps 
and I had walked in the brightest of early spring sunshine 
down the Itchen Valley to Winchester. That glittering 
waterside was all new to me; new also was Winchester 
itself. Under Cripps's expert guidance I saw all the details 
of College 3 long familiar to me in legend, while St. Cathe 
rine's Hill with the river below it made a natural composi 
tion which I proceeded to carry out in paint on my return. 
The picture proved so much more vivid and lively than my 
previous efforts that Shannon procured, through the kindly 
Van Wisselingh, an invitation for me to submit it to the New 
English Art Club. Ricketts summarily dismissed my very 
modest notions about price. 'Don't make yourself cheap* 
or others will take you at your own valuation. You can 
always knock something off a price, but you can never put 
anything on.* 

The New English Art Club, at this time the single refuge 
for artists out of sympathy with the Royal Academy, held 
two exhibitions every year at the Dudley Gallery in Picca 
dilly, just opposite, as was fitting, the gateway to Burlington 
House. The Gallery was small, having accommodation for 
not more than 150 paintings and drawings; the Jury, con 
sisting of the most notable c outsiders * of the time, was thus, 
of necessity, severely critical. With the Autumn Afternoon near 
Winchester., I submitted a little brown picture of a barn. 
Both were accepted, not, as Fry afterwards told me, without 
a fight on his part against Charles Furse and others of the 
then modernists. To crown all, the Winchester picture was 
bought by Lady Harmsworth for sixty guineas. When the 
news was broken to my family it was received with frank 
incredulity. c What! Sixty guineas! You must mean sixteen. 
Why ! His uncle never got that for a picture in his life. 9 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1896-1903 

The feature of this exhibition was Orpen's little picture of 

The Minor, which in a moment raised a Slade student from 
obscurity to a repute which his next exhibits confirmed and 
made permanent. My little success was not repeated. The 
Martello Tower,, sent in May 1901, might have become a fine 
picture in the hands of Claude Monet ; in mine it was bright, 
laboured and stuffy. In November of the same year my 
Constable wanderings bore fruit in two pictures. Stoke 
Church^ Suffolk, more or less vaguely in the Gainsborough 
style, was admired by Ricketts. I thought it too brown, and 
afterwards, for a show at Wolverhampton, repainted the 
background so that it became nothing at all. 

In the summer, however, I had seen at Van Wisselingh's 
the Don Quixote by Daumier, now in the Berlin Gallery, and 
had been so deeply impressed that I attempted, in a painting 
of Old Sarum^ what I imagined to be a somewhat similar 
simplification. The lessons of Strang, and collecting Japanese 
prints, ought to have guided me in that direction sooner, but 
not until I had seen that masterly specimen of Daumier was 
I impelled to a practical experiment. The picture has now 
grown hopelessly dark, but it was liked by Sturge Moore and 
other friends., although it was not calculated to make any 
show in an exhibition which contained Steer's Rainbow and 
charming examples of Conder, Rothenstein and others. 

May 1902 was notable for the first appearance of Augustus 
John, already a complete master. I had met him just pre 
viously at Rothenstein's, and it was from Rothenstein in 
May 1903 that I received a singularly kind and charming 
letter when my magnum opus of the moment was rejected, one 
of the very few rejections from which I have ever suffered. 
As I was shortly to be married the set-back was annoying; 
but it was thoroughly deserved. I had tackled another 
Claude Monet subject, poplars by a river against a bright 
sky, repainted it rashly at the last moment (as Fm prone 
to do) and rained it. The moment that it got back to Mark- 
ham Square the painting was destroyed, beyond reparation 
even by my landlady, who, with a touching if misguided 

200 



1896-1903] ROCHE'S 

faith in my future, was wont to sew together privily the 
fragments of pictures which I had cut up. She kept them, 
so I'm told, for years. 

The rooms which I shared with Cripps in Markham 
Square gave ample room not only for painting, and for 
writing my big book on Constable, but for boxing, which, 
with occasional Sunday tramps in the Home Counties, con 
tinued to be my chief exercise. When I was left desolate by 
Cripps's marriage, his place was taken by my cousin Norman 
Dickson. A hard-working, misogynist house-surgeon at St. 
Thomas's Hospital, Ms good looks earned him the nickname 
of Adonis at Roche's, and camouflaged a physique which 
made him a trustworthy three-quarter back and a really 
formidable pugilist. When his blue eyes got well alight 
after a knock or two, the pace and violence of his hitting 
called for every defensive device, and for counter-offensives 
such as I was never compelled to use with others. Mayer, 
afterwards of Colnaghi's, a plucky and active light-weight 
pupil of Sam Blacklock, with W. G. Dobson, of the Harle 
quins, a massive and determined heavy-weight, made more 
comfortable sparring-partners. Dobson happened to drop 
in one evening just after Norman Dickson had settled there. 
The two discovered that they had been contemporaries at 
Cheltenham, and regaled me, over whisky, with Cheltenham 
'shop* into the small hours. WTien at last they rose to go 
each, most ceremoniously, begged the other to go first. 
Finally the Harlequin, whose bulk had carried him through 
many a rough-and-tumble, said cheerily, 'Well! If you 
won't go out first I must put you out/ and proceeded to do 
so. I was afraid the good-humoured tussle which followed 
would bring down the jerry-built house; but my private 
forecast was not at fault. It was the Harlequin who was 
heaved down the steps. 

Dobson shortly afterwards asked me down to Teign- 
mouth to meet his people, and in particular a younger 
brother Denis, already a Blue and an International forward, 
who would put me in my place. But when I saw that superb 

2OI 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1896-1903 

specimen of humanity playing about easily with 4o-lb. 
dumb-bells, I felt like the Queen of Sheba after meeting 
Solomon, and flatly declined to put on the gloves with him. 
The odds were too overwhelming; the risk of a bad accident 
too great. 

That very afternoon I had reason to bless my cowardice. 
Newton Abbot were to play the Civil Service, and Denis 
had become such a local hero that 'Dorbson ! ' 'Dorbson ! * 
was the crowd's only battle-cry. He justified their applause 
by his amazing activities, and by one outstanding feat. A 
big Civil Service three-quarter got away with the ball. 
Denis made a jump and a grab which, missing the man's 
neck, slithered down his back till the fingers happened to 
catch a little upturned fold of the jersey. But the hold was 
enough for Denis. With a casual flick of his arm he lifted 
that six-footer clean off the ground to turn a lumbering 
somersault in the air, while the 'Dorbson' yells became 
frantic. As I walked away after the match, a shrimp 
between the two burly brothers, down the lane which the 
crowd reverently made for them, a small boy, darling out an 
arm and a finger towards Denis Dobson's ulster, turned to his 
fellow-urchins with the triumphant cry, ' Alt touched *un. 5 

During these years I was enabled by the kindness of Dr. 
Butler and the Brasenose authorities to keep in touch with 
the Windrush, though the river had suffered grievously since 
my Oxford days. First came a visitor who deserved the 
fate of his eponymous apostle, for taking and keeping no less 
than twelve brace of those noble fish on one fatal day. 
Then came pollution from the Witney mills, which turned 
the river blue-black, killing the fish, their food, and the 
very water-weeds. Re-stocking mended things but slowly. 
Little brown quarter-pounders and one pure Lochleven 
trout of two pounds were my first captures. Then as the 
river recovered its colour and the weeds began to return, 
the various new breeds amalgamated, taking the form 
of a handsome brownish trout. This, in turn, reverted 
gradually to the silver of the old Windrush stock, a 

202 



1896-1903] ROCHE'S 

proof, if proof were needed, that environment is the 
decisive factor. 

During the intermediate stages, when under-water food 
was presumably less abundant, and enemies like pike less 
pressing, the trout took the fly much more freely. Indeed, 
when there was no liatch of natural Mayfly they could often 
be induced to rise by simulating one. Floating an artificial 
gently and steadily over some likely spot for twenty minutes 
would often bring about one or two tentative rises, and 
finally a business-like 'chop, 3 resulting in capture. Such 
tactics, alas! do not seem to entice the well-fed fish of 
to-day. 



203 



CHAPTER XII 
MARRIAGE 

(1903) 

Miss Rivington; Bruges; the Midland Railway; a book on 
Constable ; James Orrock ; Norwich ; end of the Vale Press ; 
marriage; Switzerland; a letter from Fry; negotiations for 

the 'Burlington Magazine.* 

THE prospect of the closing down of the Vale Press had, at 
first, excited no- more than mild speculation as to future 
employment. Speculation suddenly turned to anxiety when 
I found that I wished to get married to one of my Rivington 
cousins. The Rivington family consisted of two branches, 
one devoted to printing and publishing, the other to the 
law. The legal branch, together with my father's old friend 
Mrs. William Rivington, had shown me consistent kindness 
all through my years of trouble. Charles Robert Rivington, 
the head of the Rivington solicitors' firm and Registrar of 
the Stationers 3 Company, was no exception. A man of wide 
interests, he spent much of his time in Westmorland, on 
estates which he had inherited from Miss Hill, a relative of 
Ms first wife. In virtue of his work on the Register of the 
Stationers* Company he had been elected F.S.A. and, among 
other good deeds, after ferreting out the exact position of 
the house in which Hans Holbein died, had privately and 
unostentatiously put up a tablet to the painter's memory 
in the appropriate parish church, St. Andrew Undershaft. 
In the summer of 1901 he happened to give a dinner-party 
at Hurlingham, where I sat next to his daughter Florence, 
a professional violinist, whom I had not seen for several 
years, since she had only recently returned to London after 
a long illness. 

No less resolute and independent than artistically sensi- 

204 



MARRIAGE 

tive, she had been trained at Darmstadt, studying the piano 
and the violin. Now she had settled at Hampstead as a 
sub-Professor of the violin at the Hampstead Conservatoire-^ 
under a Cecil Sharpe not yet entirely absorbed by English 
folk-songs. I fell an immediate victim, but the way at first 
was not always easy. One moment of very black despair 
was temporarily lightened by meeting an old school-fellow 
in a Sloane Square restaurant, and discovering that he too 
was in a similar desperate plight. He found vent for Ms 
feelings in a novel which still has a place among Ms many 
delightful contributions to literature. My gloom gave place 
to fiiry. I would prove I was a painter, and in that mood 
produced The Portsmouth Road, which I still regard as the 
best of my early products. The scene was found near 
Witley Heath, and the middle distance, crowded with little 
birch-trees and other soft Surrey foliage (wMch I generally 
find unmanageable) , came right at the very first effort. It 
was painted, tree by tree, "with a small sable brush, in pure 
colour upon a rubbing of raw umber, in about an hour. I 
often tried the method afterwards, but never had the same 
success with it. I kept the picture by me for some years, 
partly as an example and encouragement, partly for senti 
mental reasons. Then, after exMbition in 1904, it got sold 
in New Zealand. 

The change in my fortune came suddenly in July 1902, 
just when I had to go over to Bruges, to write about the 
famous exMbition of that year for the t Athenaeum.' Bruges 
overflowed with visitors. From the hotels I was driven to 
cafes, and from cafes to *In De Palingpot/ securing there 
a coffin-shaped attic, to the discomfiture of several rival 
tourists. One of them had to take an unsavoury cupboard 
under the stairs^ the remainder to resume their slum 
wanderings. After dinner at a cafe, I settled at a round 
table under a street-lamp, and there composed, with the 
local pen and the local stationery^ a singularly unattractive 
letter to my prospective father-in-law disclosing the situa 
tion. But when I had done the picture-job (my notes, even 

205 



SELF AND PARTNERS [ Ig o 3 

now, seem pretty accurate), all was made easy. Robert 
Rivington apparently had views of his own as to my past 
history; made allowances for my present unsatisfactory 
position, and wished me luck. 

I was due to dine that evening with the other branch of 
the family, and being full of my happiness, asked them as 
we sat down to dinner for their congratulations. The 
request was received with round-eyed open-mouthed silence, 
broken at last by the horrified question, c And do you mean 
to say that Robert has given his consent? ' My affirmative 
rendered the party almost reverential. I was puzzled, until 
a blushing inquiry over the port revealed the secret. The 
existence of two young step-brothers had been overlooked, 
and their sister was thought to be her father's heiress. 
Correcting the mistake gave visible relief, and restored our 
normal friendly relations. 

At the time I did not recognize what an effect upon my 
painting this matrimonial connexion with Appleby was to 
produce. Not only were the Westmorland fells to become 
familiar: the mere journey North by the Midland line was 
to be a continual inspiration and pleasure. Its comfortable 
restaurant-cars were more than compensation for the inferi 
ority of the permanent way to that of the L.N.W.R. ; then- 
method of service saved the third-class passenger from the 
disconcerting invasions between Crewe and my native 
Preston which characterized the rival route. And, after the 
first flat hundred miles of the Midlands were passed, the 
industrial phenomena by the wayside, whether of fiery life 
or of melancholy decay, revived and reinforced my early 
impressions of Lancashire. The mighty mounds of Clay 
Cross and a mysterious expanse of ruins near Rotherham 
became irresistible attractions as the train rushed by. North 
of Leeds, the Bronte country and the hills of Craven led up 
to ancestral Stainforth and Ribblehead Moor with its three 
tutelary giants, Pen-y-ghent, Ingleborough and Whernside. 
Finally, after crossing the Pennine summit, came the run 
down the gorge of Mallerstang into the wide Eden VaUey. 

206 



1903] MARRIAGE 

Never had such a diversity of gifts thematic been provided 
automatically for future exploration. 

My big book, c Constable, and his Influence on Landscape 
Painting/ was now finished. I had done my best to identify 
the subjects of his pictures and sketches by visiting the 
various places where Constable had worked., and to arrange 
his products in chronological order, by their topography and 
by technical comparisons between dated and undated paint 
ings, being conscious that in other respects I could not do 
all that I wanted to do. It was not easy for a totally unknown 
clerk to get access to pictures in private collections ; and, as 
Sir Charles Tennant remarked when he showed me his 
treasures, 'You are a very young man to be writing a book/ 
Nor could I add much to Leslie's narrative. A batch of 
Constable's letters indeed was offered to me, of which Leslie 
had made but little use, but the price asked was more than 
the whole payment I was to get from the publishers. I think 
Lord Plymouth afterwards acquired them for his book on 
Constable. Judging from the single glance at them which 
I was allowed, these letters were very different in general 
tone from the polite extracts given by LesHe. Constable's 
outspoken and contemptuous comments upon his con 
temporaries not only helped to explain the tardiness of his 
acceptance by them, but would have infused some liveliness 
into my text. 1 The historical and personal part of the book 
had thus to follow conventional lines ; but the chronological 
sequence of Constable's pictures and sketches was so care 
fully worked out that I still find it useful. 

Among those whom I had occasion to approach in my 
researches was Mr. James Orrock. That ingenious collector 
received me in dressing-gown, and slippers at his big house 
in Bedford Square, crammed with pictures, porcelain, furni 
ture and miscellaneous objects of art, all of the 'ighest 
quality.* The porcelain looked good: a glance at the 
pictures enjoined caution. He showed me one pleasing 

1 The recently published 'Letters of John Constable R.A. to C. R. LesHe 

.' (London: Constable; 1931), display similar frankness. 

2O7 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1903 

Constable, a view of the house at Dedham with c Isabel 
Constable on the horse in the foreground. 5 I timidly asked 
if it could be Isabel? The picture dated from 1811-12, years 
before Isabel was born. c WeH, if it isn't Isabel it's somebody 
else' was the airy reply. I noticed a queer discrepancy in 
another picture. 'Oh, a clever man can soon put that 
right* ; as if touching up or repainting Old Masters was the 
most natural thing in the world. When the remains of his 
collection came to Christie's, a year or two later, I had to 
try to separate the few sheep from the interesting half-breeds 
and positive goats in that variegated flock. While I was 
puzzling over these problems, Mr. W. G. Rawlinson, the 
Turner collector, told me of a curious experience. Calling 
at Bedford Square, he had been taken upstairs, and left in a 
passage while Mr. Orrock was found. Seeing an open door, 
Mr. Rawlinson looked in and hastily withdrew. A Turner 
painting rested on a chair; on the easel by it was a facsimile, 
the paint still wet. 

The agreement with Messrs. Constable for the book's publi 
cation led to an unexpected result. Among other stipula 
tions, I bargained for a final payment of 100 to the author 
when the edition (a limited one) went out of print. I called 
one day to inquire how the book was selling. Less than 
twenty copies were left, and it suddenly struck us both that 
my precious agreement would actually penalize the pub 
lishers for selling them. We laughed and compromised. 
Since then I have read and amended many a publisher's 
agreement, but never again have I drawn one up. 

Some months later the redoubtable T. W. H. Crosland 
engaged me to write a little book on 'Pictures and Picture- 
Collecting/ for a new series of which he was editor. Cash, 
in view of my wedding, was not to be despised, and in the 
course of obtaining it after I had 'done the work, I found 
that those who are accustomed to attack others can be quite 
hurt when others turn upon them. The book itself is 
naturally now quite out of date, but the appendix on 
'Municipal Collecting/ written just after I had taken a big 

208 



igos] MARRIAGE 

dose of Swift, still makes me smile, especially the final 
paragraph. 

The need of settling some little problems of the Norwich 
School took me again to Norwich. The changes there In 
the last nine years were almost incredible. The quiet 
tumble-down city of Crome had become a hive of bustling 
modernity. The old Royal Hotel, recalling In Its solemn 
fustiness the days of Dickens, had given place to a huge 
structure, thoroughly up-to-date. Electric light blazed 
everywhere; electric trams buzzed and clanged past its 
palatial doors. LucMly Mr. James Reeve, the veteran 
authority of the Castle Museum, had not also vanished, and 
the hours spent with Mm, Ms collections and Ms memories of 
painters and rogues, mostly rogues, gave me an invaluable 
framework for future study. The elder Paul, for Instance, 
one of Crome's most gifted followers, had taken refuge In 
London, because he was mixed up In the murder of a girl at 
Norwich. In London, as I knew, he had maintained Mmself 
for the rest of Ms life by forging Cromes and Constables, 
with the help of a son, whom Herbert Home remembered 
as a venerable copyist at the National Gallery, much patron 
ized by dealers who needed eighteenth-century portraits. 
Mr. Reeve knew good drawing when he saw It, and produced 
with pride some studies of horses in water-colour wMch had 
recently been made by a young painter from the Norwich 
Art School. So completely accomplished were they that I 
made a note of the young artist's name. It was Munnlngs. 

Forgers particularly interested me, and I had some 
thought of compiling a work on "Forgers and Forgeries of 
the British School/ Investigation Into their secrets was not 
always easy. Once, when trying to * pump * a dealer with 
great experience in such things, I was pulled up sharp with, 
'Young man, don't you go asking too many questions about 

, or you'll be getting yourself knocked on the head one of 

these dark nights. 5 c jlmmy ' Webb, the reputed maker of so 
many Constables and Turners, was an especial favourite, 
and to discover several signed works by Mm in a private 

209 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1903 

collection at Oxford, with a technique identical in many 
respects with the imitations, was a notable experience. 
Once in a little shop in Shaftesbury Avenue I saw a small 
version by Mm of Constable's Lock, which I thought I might 
buy as a specimen. The price asked was ten pounds. I 
offered five, saying that was enough for an imitation. 'If 
you know that/ said the shopman, 'you ought to know that 
Jimmy Webb is worth eight pounds in the trade, any day. 3 
By an odd coincidence, this very study, or its twin brother, 
was presented to me more than thirty years later by my 
friend Louis Clarke. 

The Norwich visit was prompted, in part, by a request from 
Robert Dell to write an article on Cotman for the 'Burling 
ton Magazine, 3 which came out in March 1903, on a scale 
of unexampled magnificence. Only a year before, the 
'Connoisseur* had scored an instant success, and my cousin 
Walter Clay had done his best to get me a place on the staff, 
by introducing me to J. T. Bailey and others who conducted 
it. But a luncheon with them at the Trocadero was not a 
success. They seemed to me too sanguine, too happy-go- 
lucky. I, no doubt, seemed to them pedantic and over 
cautious. Some of the people I had met at that luncheon 
had now seceded to found the 'Burlington. 5 The first 
numbers were indeed marvellous, but I did not see how they 
could possibly pay expenses, and it was with commerce just 
then that I was necessarily concerned. 

I was to be married in July, had taken a house in London, 
spent nearly all my small savings upon furniture, and the 
Vale Press was to close down finally on June 3oth. Ricketts 
drew up a scheme for a new joint publishing business, just 
to help me through, but I did not like the idea of being a 
drag upon him. Laurence Housman most kindly suggested 
that I ^ should succeed him as critic to the 'Manchester 
Guardian ' ; Rendall offered to extend the scope of the work 
I did for the 'Athenaeum ' ; a big firm of advertising agents 
in the City offered a job worth 500 a year to start with. 
This last I was preparing to accept, though the people were 

2IO 



I9 o 3 ] MARRIAGE 

total strangers, when Robert Rivington put his foot down* 
Art was the thing I liked, which I had studied, and by which 
I was making my way : I had better stick to it. Even if 
for the moment it brought in very little, the tide would be 
sure to turn. With all my desire for independence, it was 
impossible to fight against a decision so authoritative, so 
considerate of my natural inclinations, and so contrary to 
current family opinion. Not without internal qualms we 
acquiesced in what seemed rather a rash gamble with 
Providence. 

At the end of June, the Vale Press duly and inexorably 
ceased to be. The final meeting was attended by H. A. 
Moncrieff, Rivington's old manager, who after auditing the 
books and accounts proceeded to report upon them. Hacon, 
assuming for the occasion the dignity and severity of a judge, 
pressed him closely as to the correctness of the figures and 
then as to the disposal of the alleged profits. ' Why ! You* vc 
had them yourselves,' was honest MoncrlefFs answer, 'and 
I have never seen so wonderful a return from so small a 
capital since Arrowsmith (?) published " The Mystery of a 
Hansom Cab." 5 Lastly, the value of the trade accounts still 
owing to the firm was challenged. I vouched for them, and 
was offered 50 if I could collect them in a fortnight. This, 
with the aid of a small discount, proved easy enough, and 
the partners presented me with a further jioo. As a matter 
of fact, the total bad debts of the firm in seven years amounted 
to i 9 us. 6d. 

On July 2 ist we were married at St. Paul's, Avenue Road, 
Laurence Binyon acting as best man, and losing in the 
subsequent confusion his new top-hat. When we set off for 
Switzerland, being unaccustomed to the ways of trains-de 
luxe, my blunders in the matter of luggage and language 
were enough to ruin for good my reputation as a traveller. 
Switzerland, however, was no longer the fog-bound desola 
tion I remembered, but such a place of glittering snow, sharp 
rocks and blue sHes, as to occupy both my wife's little 
camera and my little sketch-book, confirming incidentally 

211 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1903 

the Impressions of brightness I had received four years 
earlier in Italy. 

Had I studied under some Paris-trained artist I should, no 
doubt, have learned much earlier the fascination of light in 
a landscape, but Shannon and Ricketts had directed my 
attention to the traditional technique of oil-painting and to 
design, as exemplified In the works by Old Masters which 
were visible in London. These, excepting of course the 
Primitives, being almost always low in tone, either by Inten 
tion or from the accumulation of old varnishes, drew me to 
think of similar depth and richness as Ideals grander than 
those of the Impressionists, who looked more chalky then 
than they do now. Their whites have grown more trans 
lucent with age. It was doubtless a healthy discipline to 
have studied traditional design and technique, but the 
discipline had already lasted long enough; and to graft new 
and brighter methods upon that sober stock was henceforth 
a continuous effort. 

Coining to Meirlngen, I was thrilled to recognize there the 
scene of the drawing by J. R. Cozens, A Valley with Winding 
Streams., at South Kensington, which had always seemed to 
contain the quintessence of his genius. Though the canaliza 
tion of the Aar had done away with the meandering waters, 
the crags were unmistakable. It was exciting too, after 
clambering up the hillside to the Relchenbach, to find such 
a mass of water plunging into a cold black abyss as fully 
satisfied my natural taste for terrifying aspects of nature. 
Dr. Moriarty could not have chosen a more appropriate 
place of extinction for my famous namesake. On the way 
back we were to spend a week In Paris, and we spent it 
almost entirely In the hotel. My wife, to her keen dis 
appointment and extreme discomfort, had a sharp attack of 
quinsy, and could only get a glimpse of the sights from a 
carriage on our very last day. I must add that, in defiance 
of the doctor's orders, she Insisted on getting out at the 
Louvre, and being helped upstairs as far as the Salon Carre. 

From the Continent we travelled to Appleby, and there I 

212 



MARRIAGE 

tooted and landed a trout of over 2 Ibs., from a chance cast 
with a Devon minnow, made merely by way of demonstra 
tion to a fellow-guest at Castle Bank. I have fished the river 
since for over thirty strenuous years without getting a trout 
of more than half the weight. While enjoying these amenities 
of life, somewhat nervously, since I knew that they must be 
short-lived, I was roused and recalled to action by an express 
letter from Roger Fry. Since it affected my whole future 
I had better reproduce it. 

14 NEW BURLINGTON STREET, LONDON, W., 
Sept. 7, 1903. 

MY DEAR HOLMES, I have been trying for dap to get into 
communication with you for days on most important business. 
It is this 3 the Burlington is in extremis. It is a really sound thing 
I believe^ but has been run on insufficient capital and with 
absolutely no business method. Berenson and I are only just 
now aware of the true state of things, and to-day have interviewed 
Spottiswoode about it. I believe the only thing to save it is this. 
To get you to be joint editor with Dell at a salary of ^300 for 
the first six months after which if, as I feel sure it will be, it is 
a success yr. salary should be raised or your work lessened. For 
this ^300 you would give the mornings only and work at getting 
the business straight, and also give your advice on the general 
editing and sub-editing of the paper. In any case it may be 
worth yr. while to think of this quite apart from, a disinterested 
goodwill to the cause of art study wh. will suffer a serious blow 
if this fails. 

I am able to make this offer because Del will agree to anything 
we can think out in order to save the situation. Wire to me at 
High buildings, Fernhurst, Haslemere. Berenson and I come 
up to interview the Spottiswoodes on Thursday. The ideal 
thing would be for you to come up a day earlier and be present 
at the whole meeting. 

In any case wire to me at Fernhurst (for wires leave out 
Haslemere) what you can do for us. Yrs. in haste and very 
urgently, 

ROGER E, FRY. 

Naturally we lost no time in coming up to 58 Kensington 
Park Road, a chaos of piled packing-cases, and 3 while my 
wife returned to her work at tie Hampstead Conservatoire^ 

213 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1903 

I rushed hither and thither in the attempt to introduce a 
modest degree of order into the affairs of the e Burlington 
Magazine. 5 More than three hectic months were spent 
among the ever-shifting sands of company-promotion ; the 
changes in the situation being so many and so complicated 
that to enumerate them would be neither profitable nor 
possible, I can recall only a few salient features of that 
confused struggle in the liquidation-mud. 

To begin with, I went down into Surrey to learn about 
the situation from Fry and his wife, who were staying there 
with the Berensons. That delightful artist Mrs. Fry was 
deeply, almost too deeply, interested in the crisis. Her 
enthusiasm and her delicate wit had helped, I think, to make 
the Berensons consider whether they might not take the 
predominant part in reviving the magazine. But when the 
predominance seemed likely to extend to criticism as well as 
to finance, I became apprehensive. Friends like Claude 
Phillips and other English writers of repute, not to mention 
such authorities as Bode in Berlin, would not exactly welcome 
a Berensonian dictatorship, and the job of the nominal editor 
would be no bed of roses. Luckily, perhaps, the amount of 
capital that might be required for control was so considerable 
as to cause the idea to be postponed, and finally to be 
dropped. 

Since the c Burlington * was a handsome and attractive 
magazine, even its creditors could not relinquish the hope 
of a resurrection, and to that end encouraged Fry's efforts 
to raise new capital. On this errand we tramped about 
London together : but at the money-begging business I proved 
to be utterly useless, being fit only to check figures, work 
endless calculations, and pick holes in the plausible schemes 
which various interested parties laid before us. Fry on the 
other hand was simply magnificent. No rebuff could shake 
his determination to carry the matter through. The promise 
of 1000, given promptly and quietly by Herbert Cook 
after we had explained our ideas to him, was our first great 
encouragement^ and consoled us for the refusals we had met 

214 



igos] MARRIAGE 

from some other prominent * art-patrons.' Mrs. Herringham, 

Mr. Wyndham Cook, Max Rosenheim, Campbell Dodgson, 
were among the pioneer subscribers (bless them all !) . 

Suddenly, in the middle of October, and of these exertions, 
Fry was put hors de combat. Mrs. Fry was taken so seriously ill 
that he had to remain in Surrey in constant attendance upon 
her. c I*m almost at my wits' end with anxiety/ he writes, 
c and momentary hope and fear. I know you will under 
stand and act for the best. This wretched Burlington is part 
responsible for the whole thing : it wd. be terrible if that 
failed now, so I must resign it to you for a few days more.' 
Knowing my disabilities as a raiser of capital, I could only 
return with desperate energy to the business of negotiating. 

The chief question in this financial nightmare was, * With 
whom can we most safely negotiate?* First came the 
original proprietors of the magazine, the Savile Publishing 
Company, but their days were numbered. Indeed, the 
magazine had practically passed out of their hands, and was 
being carried on by the printers and other large creditors. 
Their goodwill was essential, yet the actual property in the 
magazine would be vested at the end of October in the very 
business-like liquidator, Mr. F. S. Salaman. Also the editor, 
Robert Dell, was endeavouring independently to raise fresh 
capital, and thereby retain his place under any new dis 
pensation. His chief supporters were Lord Windsor and, 
I think, Alfred Beit, who had been prompted thereto by 
Bode. Bode's action deserves to be remembered as a rare 
piece of international generosity. How many people here, 
I wonder, would try to raise money for a German magazine? 

Four separate eagles, in addition to ourselves, were thus 
hovering round the sick-bed of the c Burlington. 3 The advan 
tage of position lay with the printers. Not only could they 
hold up production at any moment but, as owners or con- 
trollers of a considerable group of papers and magazines, 
they possessed expert knowledge of publishing in addition 
to its machinery. They were ingenious too. With Dell's 
little capital to help them, they conceived a plan for taking 

215 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1903 

over the magazine, and for putting It in charge of D. S. 
MacColl, already connected with them as the successful 
editor of the c Architectural Review/ Though I was work 
ing every day upon the finance of the "Burlington/ and was 
in constant touch with the promoters of the scheme, I heard 
nothing of it until MacColl, with characteristic loyalty, 
referred the offer to Fry, and then declined it, so that the 
field might be free for us. 

The liquidator's aim and duty were to sell the Magazine 
for the best price he could get. He had meanwhile to pro 
duce the November and December numbers, at a loss which 
made him doubly anxious to be rid of it. Dell, having been 
rudely shocked by the MacColl proposal, which would have 
left him out in the cold, was ready to make any reasonable 
arrangement for joining forces with us, and buying the 
* Burlington 3 from the liquidator. He was, even then, a 
brilliant and experienced journalist, with a knowledge of 
writers upon art, their merits and their fads, which I totally 
lacked. On the other hand, I had practically managed the 
magazine for several months, though without any definite 
right to be there at all. When, therefore, our new company 
was formed, and the magazine passed into its legal posses 
sion on New Year's Day 1904, I was made Managing 
Director, as well as joint editor with Dell, an arrangement 
which suited us both, and worked thereafter without a hitch. 



216 



CHAPTER XIII 

THE 'BURLINGTON MAGAZINE 5 
(1903-1909) 

Troubles of an economist; Diirer: Chantrey; questions of 
public policy; MacColl goes to MUlfoank; Fry enlists help in 
New York; collecting advertisements; some notable con 
tributors ; Anatole France in Rome ; the Flora bust ; National 
Gallery affairs. 

THE table on which I am writing an article shakes under 
the blows with which Miss Dell, sitting just opposite, rattles 
off another article on her Remington; behind her, three 
cheery gentlemen, two of whom it will be my painful duty 
to lose very shortly (and they know it), are swopping stories; 
close by, on my right, an unsympathetic author alternately 
threatens and whines for money which I can't pay Mm. 
Such is my memory of 14 New Burlington Street, when I 
descended upon the c Burlington Magazine 5 in December 
1903. 

Hardened as I was to the arithmetic of failure in book- 
publishing, the figures of magazine production astounded 
me. At every point money seemed to flow out ; at none did 
any seem to come in. It was evident that Art, and high 
ideals, and all that, must take their chance until this financial 
landslide was arrested. Compared with his predecessors, the 
liquidator had been a stern economist ; yet, if we could not 
improve upon his figures, our precious capital would scarcely 
last us three months. By an immediate move to 17 Bemers 
Street we saved rent ; by ruthless reduction of staff we saved 
salaries ; but to cut down the cost of the magazine itself was 
not so simple. Authors and readers we might disregard; 
credit with advertisers must be risked ; economies elsewhere 
were met with a threat of foreclosure. 

217 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1903-1909 

To Sir Edgar Speyer, as the biggest business man among 
our backers, I went off with our dilemma. 'How did you 
answer them? ' said he. I had told them to go to Jericho. 
e l shouldn't have said that,* replied Sir Edgar, 'but Mr. 
Frank Dawes happens to be here, so we will consult him. 3 
On that famous gentleman's coming. Sir Edgar explained 
in two minutes what had taken me fifteen, finally asking, 
'What would you do?' c Tell 'em to go to Hell' was the 
unexpected and consoling reply. Then to me, 'You can just 
say to Mr. X, with Mr. Frank Dawes's compliments, that 
it's no good; and you'll have no further trouble/ The 
moment I got back from Lothbury, I rang up and gave the 
message. It was received in silence, and our enforced 
economies proceeded without another word of protest. Even 
then we could only reduce the deficit on the magazine to 
a quarter of what it had been a month or two before ; to 
turn the loss into a profit seemed impossible. 

Fry, from the first, had seen what an influence the 
'Burlington* might exert. Hitherto it had dealt almost 
exclusively with ancient art, with collecting and collectors. 
To widen its scope by including current problems was a 
novelty ; but it soon became as much a part of my business 
as getting articles from the distinguished critics of the day, 
and anointing their scratches with editorial butter when 
they happened to squabble. More really embarrassing were 
certain veterans, whom I knew slightly, but whose contribu 
tions had to be rejected. I was compelled to decline election 
at the Athenaeum, because the list of members included 
several whose appeals in a club smoking-room would have 
been difficult to resist. On my hard editorial throne I felt 
comparatively safe, and the Civil Servants at the Union 
Club, which I joined somewhat later, were much too wise 
and too busy to touch upon our problems, except when I 
asked for help. 

Only once or twice was I forced into the critical arena, as 
when Diirer's Portrait of his Father was bought for the National 
Gallery. Claude Phillips was to write about it; a special 

218 



1903-1909] THE 'BURLINGTON MAGAZINE * 

photogravure plate was made, and printed, In honour of the 
occasion. At the very last moment, Phillips took fright, 
after reading the doubts expressed by Dtirer specialists, like 
Friedlander and Dodgson, and threw up the job. So the 
task of defending our costly frontispiece fell to me. 

When the picture was shown at Burlington House during 
the previous winter, I had examined it very carefully before 
writing an article in the "Athenaeum, 9 emphasizing its fine 
quality. But Fry was among the picture's opponents. *I 
hear,' he wrote, 'that you are writing on the Dtirer, if it is 
not too late let me implore you to pause before writing an 
editorial backing up the purchase. It is not only that I 
definitely disagree with the view, and considering that owing 
to your article my voice is silenced in the "Athenaeum, 55 I 
think that might weigh with you but it is a question on 
which it is desirable that the Burlington should not commit 
itself unless we are quite certain to be right, or at least to 
command the respect of expert opinion. 

'I know you formed your favourable opinion of the picture 
independently of Ricketts, but his support has doubtless 
given you greater confidence, and has perhaps prevented you 
from weighing quite impartially the very strong feeling of 
critics whose opinion on such a point allowing every regard 
to Ricketts's extraordinary gifts deserves, very serious con 
sideration. 

As a member of the consultative committee and known to 
be intimately connected with the Burlington, I should feel 
the position such an editorial would put me in very keenly, 
and might feel compelled to disown what I think is a hasty 
and unscholarly attribution. 

4 You wiU know that I do not wish to impose all my 
opinions on the Burlington, and you will hardly accuse me 
of intolerance, and I trust you to see that I am only desirous 
in the interests of the Magazine that it should not be hastily 
and prematurely committed to a line which admits, to say 
the least, some danger of putting it out of touch with the 
best opinion in England and abroad.* 

219 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1903-1909 

Such a warning made me doubly cautious. 1 had already 
been round to Trafalgar Square to collect Sir Edward 
Poynter's evidence, only to discover that he had relied 
chiefly upon my own c Athenaeum 3 article. Luckily, close 
examination of the picture and its inscription yielded more 
positive proofs. There was no need for hedging or with 
drawal; Fry waived his protest; the article duly appeared; 
met with no effective counterblast, and the portrait was 
accepted, to the delight of Ricketts, who had voiced Ms 
opinion of its critics -with unquotable pungency. 

Two months later Ricketts writes from Broadstairs : ' We 
have been shouting with joy over the Chantrey Report, it has 
given us a new home phrase " Chantrey would not like it." 
I think your evidence reads all right, there is a John-Bull- 
Jun. ring about it, next to the hesitating and self-conscious 
insincerities of our friend R. F. Old Carlyle posed one or 
two stumpers to you and D. S. M. I am bound to say I think 
the last and Guthrie both were admirable as damaging 
witnesses. Conway was excellent, his evidence was sane and 
constructive and above the fads of the moment.' This fight 
of MacColFs for the better administration of the Chantrey 
Bequest [resulting in the Committee of the House of Lords, 
to which Ricketts refers] provided the * Burlington* with 
much material for comment. The administration of 
Galleries and Museums gave us still more. 

Like Shannon and Ricketts I was a c museum specimen, 3 
proud of our London collections, grateful for what I had 
learned in them, and keen to see them perfected. The 
appointment of a Minister of the Fine Arts appeared, at first 
sight, to be the proper solution. Closer study of the idea, 
and a casual remark by Lord Windsor 3 a helpful member of 
our Board and First Commissioner of Works, as to the in 
accessibility of some of his ministerial colleagues, revealed an 
unexpected and quite fatal flaw. Such a minister would have 
no real power. Would not any Premier, when Cabinet- 
making, find that there was one supporter left who must be 
provided for, yet could not be trusted with any responsible 

220 



1903-19^9] THE 'BURLINGTON MAGAZINE 1 

office? To make the poor weakling Minister of the Fine 
Arts would be the obvious way of escape. He could do no 
harm there; and no good either. So the idea of an Art 
Ministry was quietly shelved. 

The steady drain of works of art from England was the 
anxiety at the back of all our thoughts. We had deplored it 
long before 1900; at the end of 1903, while Fry and I were 
struggling to save the "Burlington/ the feeling had grown so 
general that, on the initiative of MacColl and others, the 
National Art-Collections Fund came into being. Ricketts 
gave me an account of the inaugural meeting. All the 
recognized authorities, including the recognized obstruc 
tionists, attended, and, regardless of the real promoters, the 
latter elected themselves as the Committee. So surprised 
was the meeting that the election came near to being 
approved by stupefied silence. Then from the body of the 
hall a lady rose and, speaking with reckless, breathless frank 
ness, pointed out that none of those responsible for the 
meeting had been chosen, while most of the chosen were just 
the people who were not wanted. Thanks to this plucky 
action by Mrs. Hemngham, a new election had to take 
place, and the Fund was properly started. 

Articles on such current topics, as I have said, had origin 
ally been conceived as a means of widening the c Burlington's 5 
appeal, and giving variety to the contents. But during 1905 
current topics became more exciting than aesthetic dis 
coveries. The fierce disputes in the Press over the Rokeby 
Velazquez 3 attracted universal notice, driving us finally to 
draft suggestions for a constructive policy in 'The Lesson of 
the Rokeby Velazquez* (January 1906). The essential 
feature of it, which I had previously ^ adumbrated in the 
* Times, 5 was c To save for the National Gallery at any cost 
some twelve or fifteen pictures of the highest importance, 
which, if once lost, could never be replaced/ Nearly twenty 
years passed before an agreement was made with the 
Treasury on these very lines, 'The Wilton Diptych 5 and the 
'Cornaxo Titian 3 being the first fruits. 

221 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1903-1909 

Another outcome of these discussions was the principle of 
exhibiting to the public only the best things in a museum, 
and keeping the rest as a s Reference Section' for special 
students. It was suggested (April 1906) by the methods of 
the new Museum at Boston, and has since been applied with 
advantage to the National Portrait Gallery and the National 
Gallery. 

The Prime Minister, Mr. Balfour, a professed lover of the 
arts, did absolutely nothing for them that I can remember, 
and through this critical year of 1905 left the National 
Gallery without a Director. Claude Phillips was getting old 
and had made enemies, as active scholars in those days were 
bound to do. Fry, in consequence, became the fancied 
candidate^ and gave me an illuminating account of his inter 
view in Whitehall. After explaining what he had done in 
the world of art to a high official, who appeared to under 
stand and to care very little about the matter, he was finally 
asked, rather testily, ' Yes, but isn't there anyone whose name 
we should know, who could tell us something about you?' 
Fry was nonplussed. At last he timidly ventured, * Perhaps 
my father, Sir Edward Fry . . .' 'What!' interrupted the 
other, * Are you a son of Sir Edward Fry? Why didn't you 
say so at once? That will be all right.' 

Nevertheless no offer of the Directorship arrived until 
Fry, following the example of Sir Purdon Clarke, had 
accepted *a proposal from the Metropolitan Museum, and 
was on the point of sailing for New York. So Holroyd's 
appointment to Trafalgar Square followed in due course, 
leaving the Tate Gallery Keepership vacant. Here Fry's 
experience came in usefol. MacColl was the candidate of 
the younger generation; but the Academic opposition to 
him was expected to be formidable, in view of his Chaiitrey 
Bequest triumph. It was to Mm, and to him alone, that we 
owed the House of Lords' inquiry, and the removal, or at 
least the ventilation, of the main cause of difference between 
the Royal Academy and the Outsiders. 
When MacColl talked over the Tate vacancy with me at 

222 




ROGER FRY 

(Photo: A. C. Cooper and Sons) 



1903-1909] THE 'BURLINGTON MAGAZINE' 

Gatti's, I told Mm about Fry's interview, and asked if he had 
any sort of personal connexion -with the Prime Minister. It 
appeared that Ms father's church had been upon the 
Campbeil-Bannerman estate. That was of course enough. 
Campbell-Barmemian gave MacCoM an interview, remem 
bered his father, grasped the position at once, and delivered 
judgment, c 'It seems to me that we must do as we do with 
Bishops. Firrst we appoint a High Churrch Bishop and 
please the High Churrch party; then we appoint a Low 
Churrch Bishop and please the Low Churrch party. By 
appointing Hobroyd we have pleased Poynter and that lot : 
now the other side must have their turrn.' As a matter of 
fact the opposition proved less than was anticipated. Mac- 
Col the official would be less dangerous to the Academy 
than MacColl the free-lance journalist: Sargent, among 
others, backed Ms claim; in due course it triumphed, and 
the appointment quickly justified all our hopes. 

Fry's departure for America, disastrous as we felt it to be 
for the National Gallery, proved a godsend to our journal 
ism. The moment was indeed critical. In spite of all 
economies, our working capital was nearly exhausted. But 
Fry was not. He lost no opportunity of pressing our claims 
upon Ms new associates, and though more than once after 
wards we were in sore straits, Ms enthusiasm ultimately 
moved Mr. Pierpont Morgan, Mr. John G. Johnson, his 
friend Mr. J. W. Simpson, and Mr. Henry Walters of Balti 
more, to take up shares sufficient to carry us through till 
1909, when, for the first time, our balance-sheet showed a 
small profit. 

On one occasion Fry's energy as a spell-binder recoiled 
upon Mm rather cruelly. c Was ever poor devil so hoist with 
his own petard ? * he writes to me. "Here was I swearing to 
Fiick that he couldn't invest 300 better than in the 
Burlington, and behold he meant to give me the money for 
advice etc. to him, and so I have to keep all the savings I've 
made in our blessed business where they may go to a 
liquidator, or a mortgage or something any day and think 

223 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1903-1909 

what I could have done if H. C. Frick had been so good as 
to invest the money for me, instead of I (thinking it was his) 
for him. Alas, Alas. But now 1 mean to devote serious 
attention to the Burlington. No more nonsense for me about 
original research 3 serious criticism and such bunkum. Give 
it 'em hot and strong I say. The Picture of the Year, How 
to collect Carpet-bags, Alma Tadema at home , Oh 
you'll see.* 

Of the helpers whom Fry thus secured I met only Mr. 
Morgan and Mr. Johnson. Mr. Morgan so overwhelmed me 
at our first interview by his terrifying look and monumental 
silence^ that I could hardly speak, much less explain our 
need for money, which was the purport of my mission. 
Subsequently, when we got to work on his collections at 
Prince's Gate, he put Ms fierceness aside and proved excel 
lent company. We had hardly got upstairs when Alfred 
de Rothschild, the despot of the National Gallery Board, 
came to call. Mr. Morgan, promising to come down and 
see Mm in a few minutes, started going over Ms cabinet of 
miniatures with me. We were still discussing them, and the 
mild, exquisite and gigantic cigar provided for me was 
smoked down to the butt, when our talk was interrupted by 
a timid reminder from a manservant that Mr. de RothscMld 
had been waiting downstairs for more than an hour. 

Mr. John G.Johnson, perhaps the only American collector 
who trusted entirely to Ms own judgment, was then building 
up the varied and interesting series of paintings of all schools 
and periods wMch he bequeathed to Ms native PhiladelpMa. 
With this keen intelligence were united great kindliness, 
charm of manner and an independent honesty, which caused 
Mm to be trusted and consulted by the most powerful men 
of Ms day in the Eastern States. Though but a lawyer of 
relatively moderate means, he had, like Mr. Morgan, great 
influence over the kings of finance, and this, coupled with 
Ms personal generosity, enabled the * Burlington' to beat 
out at last from the perilous shoals of finance among which 
it had laboured for six years. 

224 



1903-1909] THE 'BURLINGTON MAGAZINE* 

The business of preparing lectures for Oxford at first made 
serious inroads upon managerial and editorial time, but 
when things were at their worst a friend, Algernon Smith, 
did me good service as a secretary, and our very able typist. 
Miss Armstrong, could be trusted with almost anything* In 
October igo6 3 my colleague Dell, who was much interested 
in French affairs, and particularly in neo-Catholicism^ 
decided to take a post as Foreign Correspondent in Paris. 
He was succeeded early in 1907 by my Brasenose friend, 
Harold Child, who helped me thenceforth with the unfailing 
tact and fine literary taste which have long since found a 
worthier field of action. When I now read what I believe 
to be Ms articles in the c Times/ I blush to think that for 
two years or more I should have been blindly content to 
take the senior place. Our little community was otherwise 
unchanged,, and worked on happily without a single Htch 3 
Frank Woollen and Gordon Stables controlling their respec 
tive sections of the business as well and as unobtrusively as 
they do still, 

Not possessing Fry's "capitalist-appeal/ I set myself to 
helping our advertisement revenue, the one thing needful 
for every sort of independent journalism. I knew most of 
the big dealers, and discovered that I could be quite shame 
less in telling them that it was their duty, as well as their 
interestj to give us a helping hand in that way. At the 
outset I had a stroke of luck. While talking, with no 
apparent result, to the superior being who controlled the 
London headquarters of a great international firm, our 
conversation was interrupted by the entry of a sturdy man 
in a rather shabby raincoat, carrying a heavy bag. The 
superb one crumpled up before the new-comer., and fol 
lowed Mm meekly into some inner sanctum. Emerging 
after a few moments, he said that Mr. X, the head of the 
whole firm, would Eke to meet me. The bag contained some 
excelent miniatures. These I duly admired, explaining in 
the course of our discussion how it was he had found me 
there. Mr. X happened to be at war with the no less 

225 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1903-1909 

mighty firm of Y. 'Does Y advertise?' he asked. 'No? 
Then I'll make him. I'll take a whole page for a year ; just 
my name is enough to put on it. He'll have to follow suit 
next month : and see that you make him pay well/ 

Y was not the only one to follow suit ; but several held 
out. When I approached Lockett Agnew he nearly exploded. 
He had never advertised in his life. Then, in the end, 
characteristically, 'Well! I'll give the magazine 100, and 
you can do what you dam well please with it.' Mr. Asfaer 
Wertheimer and Mr. Sulley were two tough nuts which I 
entirely failed to crack. Mr. Wertheimer would listen 
politely for any length of time, but always said "No* at the 
end of it : Sulley promptly reduced the conversation to an 
exchange of cynical and quite unprofitable chaff. 

Nor shall I forget my first interview with the friend who is 
now Lord Duveen, at which he calmly proposed to buy a 
whole number of the 'Burlington/ in order to describe and 
illustrate a collection which he had just purchased. It was 
vain, at first, for me to urge that such Napoleonic measures 
were contrary to our basic principles; he would take no 
refusal. The mere pressure of his determination and 
enthusiasm was difficult to resist, indeed I found his energy 
quite fascinating, as I have done ever since, and when I 
finally said No, ' it was said with more qualification than 
our custom was. Another friend, C. H. Collins Baker, came 
to me very differently. Among the articles submitted was 
one upon Foucquet which we could not use, but the hand 
writing of the manuscript was so exceptional that I was 
curious to see the author. When he called, we became 
Mends on the spot. It was hot weather, and his democratic 
suspicion of Professors and Editors was allayed by finding 
me in shirt-sleeves. 

Of the older English authorities, Mr. W. H. James Weale, 
with his long white beard and his semi-blindness, was 
undoubtedly the most picturesque, and the most scrupulous 
in scholarship ; Claude Phillips our closest ally. Innumer 
able letters gave us the benefit of his irritations and his 

226 



1903-1909] THE 'BURLINGTON MAGAZINE' 

discoveries, Ms doubts, his likes and Ms dislikes. Others 
might find Mm difficult. I found him invariably generous, 
with a rare conviction as to what was right and what was 
wrong wMch enabled Mm, trembling all the time at the 
social and official dangers which such audacity involved, to 
tell the truth in the * Daily Telegraph. 5 Superior young 
persons might sneer at his enthusiasms, his emotionalism. 
Yet through them Phillips created a lively general interest 
in Art which did excellent service to all connected with it, 
until, after his death, the light he kindled was gradually 
dimmed and then extinguished by the clever, tedious 
theoretics of the New Age. 

But Claude Phillips had other weapons besides enthusi 
asm. His long experience of European picture-galleries, his 
wonderful memory and his repute as a critic, gave his 
pronouncements an authority wMch no one since Ms day 
(and perhaps before it) has exercised in this country. I am 
not forgetting Ruskin or Berenson. Their work is a per~ 
manent contribution to English literature, but they did not 
live, as Philips did, in the middle of the critical arena, 
taking part week after week in contemporary 'discussion, and 
suffering in the end from the orator's fate. As with Haterius, 
e Comrum illud et prqftmns cum ipsa simul extinctum est* With 
the death of Claude Phillips, there vanished a force working 
for righteousness, through public opinion and through the 
pressmen who followed his lead, wMch made even the 
politicians take heed to their ways. 

The period did not lack tea-cup storms, and graver 
editorial problems. My friend Dr. Butler, for example, 
created no little sensation in the Oriental dove-cots, both 
here and on the Continent, when he first pointed out that 
* Persian * lustre-ware had been invented centuries earlier in 
Egypt. "The man doesn't even know Arabic, 3 said one 
famous authority, when I went to consult Mm before pub 
lishing this heretical contribution; fi if you take my advice, 
you'll have nothing to do with it.' Fortunately I happened 
to have read Dr. Butler's 'Arab Conquest of Egypt,' and 

227 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1903-1909 

knew that, so far as intimate acquaintance with Arab 
authorities went, he had nothing to fear from anyone. And, 
in due course, he turned the tables upon all Europe, by 
proving that it was they who had not gone to the original 
sources, but had all trusted to an imperfect French summary. 

The Berlin Museum, I remember, sent a long refutation 
of Dr. Butler's \iews. I earned their gratitude by keeping 
it back, until they had seen Ms quite conclusive defence and 
were glad to withdraw from the fray. It was impossible not 
to be impressed by the general interest in the arts which the 
Germans then displayed. As their trade prospered and their 
wealth increased, German collectors and students became 
more and more numerous ; German critics already wielded 
a sway that was world-wide, and altogether, from the cultural 
point of view, Germany set an example which, at the time, 
it was only human to envy. 

Among others, this Egypto-Persian controversy excited 
that remarkable connoisseur, Dr. F. R. Martin, who had left 
the Swedish diplomatic service for the profession of collect 
ing. The carpets, drawings, miniatures and ceramics of the 
East, with pictures and bronzes now and then, were his 
quarry; Ms province extended from Faenza to Pekin. He 
was lie first, I think, to descry the artistic links which 
connect Greece and Rome with primitive China, and was 
quick to foresee the tracks which research and collecting 
would afterwards follow. His foresight extended to politics. 
I remember his dismay when Baron Aerenthal annexed 
Bosnia and Herzegovina. c He is a very stupid man, and has 
ruined his country. 3 Martin promptly set about finding a 
place to which he could safely retire when the inevitable 
European War began. Settling upon Florence, he purchased 
a villa there, in which he lived more or less undisturbed until 
peace came. Then he made his great mistake. He backed 
the old Italian constitution against the Fascists, a course 
which led, very naturally, to endless trouble, aggravated 
later by a ruinous confidence in Kreuger the financier, and 
by a breakdown in health. His death some two years ago 

228 



1903-1909] THE * BURLINGTON MAGAZINE* 

in a Viennese hospital was unnoticed by a world suffering 
more formidable losses^ but Ms name will survive not only 
in die Museum at Faenza, but in Ms splendid publications^ 
which all Orientalists know. Since Martin had met many 
of the personages of Ms time, Ms conversation was as en 
lightening as his comings and goings were mysterious, his 
handwriting indecipherable. Indeed, to lick one of Ms 
articles into shape was a task which strained for the time being 
the bonds of a valued friendsMp. 

A discussion in the e Burlington 5 as to the nature and 
origin of the cracks in the Sistine ceiling reminds me of 
Mr. Bernard Shaw. As he happened to be in Rome when 
the ceiling was under repair, it was arranged that he should 
see the frescoes from the scaffolding erected for that purpose, 
in company with Anatole France. To their surprise, the 
visitors found that the scaffolding had to be reached from 
outside, by a long series of ladders extending up to an 
opening cut at the top of the immense chapel wall. Up the 
ladders they toiled accordingly, stout Anatole France in 
front, to find, when they attained the dizzy summit, that the 
approach to the opening was by a single plank stretched 
over the abyss. Anatole France hesitated a while, then he 
bowed his head, crossed himself^ and took the passage at a 
run. The descent, according to Kicketts 5 was hardly less 
unexpected. 'Anatole France had to be carried down from 
the scaffoldage; an Italian workman ran to Ms rescue, 
seized Mm by the waist, and carried Mm down, upside down 
like a baby. The thought of this contingency will probably 
make me stay below, whilst Shannon inspects the frescoes 
for the honour of British Art. 5 

Fry and, more rarely, MacColl contributed not a little to 
the "Burlington's 5 literary repute. Fry's phrase for Beards- 
ley, "the Fra Angdico of Satanism/ could not easily be 
bettered. Occasional writers, too, did excellent service in 
giving variety to unadulterated scholarsMp. Among the 
wittiest was undoubtedly Robbie Ross, but Ms allusive,, 
incisive word-play is so often bound up with the people and 

229 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1903-1909 

events of the moment that It may have little significance for 
a later generation. Henry James I remember chiefly by the 
shock he received on learning our rate of pay. His char 
acteristic tribute to his friend Charles EKot Norton certainly 
deserved a more substantial reward than we could afford 
to give him for it. But the very finest of all these contribu 
tions, in my opinion, is the prose elegy by Ricketts on the 
death of Conder, published in April 1909, No one could 
have rendered more exquisitely the spirit of Conder's 
enchanting, fragile decorations, 'the sense of wit and romance 
which they evoke, the sense of luxury which they express, 
and the love for beautiful things which pass away, like 
laughter and music, the mirage of noon, the magic of the 
night, the perfume of flowers and youth and life.' 

The bust of Flora y afterwards so famous, swam into my 
ken quite innocently in a South Kensington flat. I could 
not for one moment accept Leonardo's authorship, as the 
owner, Mr. Murray Marks, would have liked me to do. Not 
only was the wax, at that time, most unconvincing in colour 
and texture, being wholly different from such cinquecento 
waxes as I had examined, but the front view was much 
heavier than Leonardo's virginal faces, the hair on one side 
descended in curls that were oddly Victorian. But we 
happened at the moment to be publishing an .article upon 
the various c Flora ' pictures produced by Leonardo's Milan 
ese following, so that the bust, being clearly connected in 
some way with these Milanese derivatives, merited publica 
tion among them. I therefore got photographs from the 
owner a mentioning the bust in a short appendix to the 
article, in words which I judged to be innocuous, both to 
the owner's claims and to the reputation of the magazine 
or common sense, and then forgot the whole business. 

The news that Bode had bought the Flora for Berlin, as a 
genuine work by Leonardo, came like a thunderbolt, and I 
was dismayed to find, when re-reading my hasty note upon 
the bust, that I had been rather too clever. What I had 
intended for polite scepticism might easily be mistaken for 

230 



1903-1909] THE 'BURLINGTON MAGAZINE' 

a confession of faith. The finding of a photograph of the 
bust, taken long before in the studio of Richard Cockle 
Lucas, and of the Leonardesque picture in the Morrison 
Collection with which it w T as connected; the solemn f prob 
ing of the statue J at Berlin, and the extraction of die Veste * 
from its interior, had long been things of the past when I 
found myself, between Bode and Friedlander, right up 
against the Flora once more, on a specially conducted tour 
round the Kaiser-Friedrichs-Museum. In her neat glass 
case she was almost unrecognizable. Her complexion was 
all that an artist could desire, her features had grown 
refined, her curls had now a permanent wave that was 
almost Hellenic. She had in fact become a thing of un 
questionable beauty, and there was no need to drag in 
Leonardo's name when saying so. 

The decision and foresight displayed by the Berlin Museum 
at this time made a striking contrast to the haphazard ways 
of the National Gallery. Two incidents in 1909 confirmed 
this difference. The first had its comic aspect. Going round 
Willis's Rooms one day, rather hurriedly, I noticed a little 
painting, so capable, and so close to Rembrandt, that I 
marked it in my catalogue. At the door I met my friend 
Arthur Clifton, the head of the Carfax business, who asked 
me in his rather languid w*ay whether there was anything 
worth looking at. 'You should get number so and so * was 
the reply. Clifton entered, looked at the picture, did not 
care for it, but, having regard for my advice, sent the 
faithful Jack Stepney to bid for it up to nine guineas. At 
nine guineas and a half it was secured by Messrs. Richardson, 
found to be signed and dated 1627, an ^ therefore one of the 
earliest known works by Rembrandt. Without dreaming of 
giving Trafalgar Square the first refusal of their treasure, its 
new owners carried it off straight to Berlin, where I believe 
they got some 1500 for it. 

And one could not blame them. On two occasions, at 
least, we had got owners to offer particularly beautiful and 
desirable works, to the Nation, only to have them * turned 

231 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1903-1909 

down 3 without so much as a s Thank you. 8 It was an open 
secret also that the Trustees had just agreed to buy for 
7000 a Tilippo LIppi/ when It proved to be a modem 
forgery, of such dubious value that the owner never took the 
trouble to reclaim it. Even those who disapproved most 
strongly of Mr. de Rothschild's obstructive ways could not 
deny that on this occasion he did the Gallery a real service. 

The strangling of National Gallery initiative seemed to us 
to have begun with the famous Minute of Lord Rosebery, 
inspired, it is said, by Mr. Alfred de Rothschild's differences 
with Sir Frederick Burton, who In his last years had become 
something of an autocrat. By this Minute the Director's 
powers were made so dependent upon the opinion of the 
Board for the time being, that no definite policy of purchase, 
or for arresting the unhappy exodus of works of art from 
England, could either be formulated or maintained. We 
had lost all faith in Governments ; ( Lord Rosebery made the 
bad beginning, Lord Salisbury and Mr. Balfour blessed It 
with the approval of inaction; things have been reduced to 
a farce by Mr. Asquith. 5 And when we had done a little to 
rouse public feeling, we could not rely upon that feeling 
being directed by common sense. For example, it was 
solemnly suggested that the best remedy would be a Register 
of all the Important works of art In private possession, In 
serene forgetfulness of the fact that such a Register, without 
any provision for protecting Its contents, would be a godsend 
to exporters. We had to conclude that "the best safeguard 
for our national Philistinism Is our national Ignorance.' It 
Is only fair to add that Fry in New York, under a different 
constitution, was also meeting with serious difficulties, from 
Trustees as anxious to retain good pictures for themselves 
as ours apparently were to see them sold, of course for the 
highest obtainable price, to other countries. 

The sensation caused by the case of the famous 'Norfolk' 
Holbeln s Christina, Duchess of Milan, reinforced this criticism 
of current methods. The saving of the picture for England, 
literally at the very last moment, by a magnificent anony- 

232 



1903-1909] THE 'BURLINGTON MAGAZINE' 

mous gift from a lady, a large part, I believe, of her entire 

fortune, was a piece of luck which the Nation was not likely 
to experience a second time. So once more we pressed for 
the adoption of a definite public policy, the provision of 
a lump sum sufficient to safeguard a few of the supremely 
Important pictures in private possession, completely for 
getting that the owners of such pictures were not likely to 
welcome any restriction whatever upon their freedom to 
sell. I learned this later, to my cost. At the moment the 
feelings of a few great persons did not seem to matter 
compared with the national interest. 

The reorganization of South Kensington Museum, on the 
lines (doubtless logical, but rather inhuman) laid down by 
the Committee of Inquiry and the Board of Education, was 
another question of the moment. It seemed as if a great 
opportunity for the aesthetic selection and presentation of 
exhibits was being missed, and a great architectural oppor 
tunity too. However, as we noticed at the time, the new 
building being erected in the midst of the Natural History 
Museum, the Imperial Institute, the Albert Memorial and 
Harrod's Stores, had the merit of being in harmony with 
them all. 

The aim of these long-forgotten criticisms was wholly 
impersonal and constructive. Only by a steady refrain of 
sensible comment did it seem possible to attract the public 
attention, and 10 stir it to practical activity. And in time 
this came about. Aided by the more constant and authori 
tative pronouncements of Claude PMlHps, usually echoed 
by the rest of the Press, a general feeling grew up that some 
thing really ought to be done. The feeling reached even to 
Whitehall and Downing Street, and suggested lines of policy 
to those working with the National Art-Collections Fund. 
A double-edged compliment from MacColl, an acknow 
ledged master of critical tactics, gave us some amusement. 
5 You have arrived at a pitch of art in conveying the impres 
sion of a non-existent public demand as a solid and dangerous 
force, that must be the envy of lesser practitioners. 9 

233 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1903-1909 

By the summer of 1909 the 'Burlington 7 was actually 
paying its expenses. We were no longer dependents, and 
were ready, if necessary, to tilt against all the windmills in 
the world, when I was unexpectedly called away from 
Editorship to a very different field of action. Before I can 
come to that, certain other experiences must be mentioned. 



234 



CHAPTER XIV 
THE SLADE PROFESSORSHIP 

(1904-1910) 

Slade Professor at Oxford and member of the New English Art 
Club; Sargent; Slckert; the International Society; pictures 
and lectures; my Oxford audience; honorary degrees; the 
Ashmolean Museum ; disputes and discoveries ; Lord Curzon 
and MX. Balfour; Naples, Rome and Florence; painting at 
Ladbroke Grove ; Littlehampton ; experiments in water-colour 
and oils ; the house flooded ; entertainments ; my wife's music. 

MAcCoLL's appointment to Millbank was recognized by all 
of us as being no more than Ms bare deserts. A little earlier 
I had received an appointment which could not be so 
described. In April 1904, my friend Dr. Butler of Brasenose 
told me that the Slade Chair would be vacant in July, and 
that a new Professor would be elected in the October term. 
If you don't stand, you might bring the thing to the notice 
of the right people. 3 Binyon naturally occurred to me. 
But he hesitated, owing to his museum work and his poetry. 
I've no doubt I could do it : but I have to think of my 
poetry, which (rightly or wrongly) comes first in my scheme 
of life. Were it not for this I should have no hesitation. I 
should enjoy the work very much, and I am proud that they 
should want me to try. 3 Fry (by rumour) , Lionel Gust, 
T. G. Jackson, R.A., and Baldwin Brown, were other 
potential candidates, but all held back from unwillingness 
to oppose the existing Professor, H. E. Wooldridge, who 
hoped for re-election, with no prospect of it. The field thus 
remained fairly open, and in the autumn, since no friend 
of mine was standing, I sent in my name. Maunde Thomp 
son, Sidney Colvin and Vernon Rendall provided testi 
monials, Kendall's being a little masterpiece. Butler, know 
ing his fellow-electors, advised me to offer eighteen lectures 

235 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1904-1910 

Instead of the statutory twelve, and to undertake to reside 
In Oxford during Term-time. The former was easy; the 
latter neither appealed to my wife nor suited my Burlington 3 
work, so was met by compromise. Thanks to Butler's good 
counsel and indefatigable backing, I was elected on 
November 30th 1904. 

la the Januaiy following, I had the additional honour of 
being elected, with Sargent, to membership of the New 
English Art Club. Sargent I never really knew. His world 
was almost as far above mine as were his unusual gifts of 
hand and eye, and he showed, I thought, to the greatest 
advantage on the one occasion when, in the cause of friend 
ship, he exposed Ms disabilities. Having taken the chair at 
a dinner given to Steer, It was Sargent's duty to make a 
speech. He rose, blushing and stuttering, amid loud cheers. 
There was a long pause, and at last he got out the word 
e Gentlemen. 5 Another long pause, more blushing and more 
cheering. e l wish,' another long embarrassed pause, e to 
convey to Steer ' Here Sargent stuck, going nearly black 
In the face, while aE continued to applaud. At last, almost 
bursting with the colossal effort, he rapped out, e this 
token of my inarticulate admiration,' and sat down. The 
most eloquent of orators could not have paid so convincing 
a tribute. 

Later In the evening there was a general cry for Walter 
SIckert. That whimsical genius, who had at one time acted 
"with Irving, got up from Ms chair and promptly gave us 
part of ' Hamlet/ Act I, Scene n, as it might be performed 
by a travelling company. Assuming, like Brandram, the 
various parts in turn, he rendered them with a satire as 
delightful as the older man's convincing truth. His Queen, 
a pathetic creature, slightly uncertain about her aspirates, 
made a perfect foil to the ranting King, who marched her 
off with ludicrous pomp when, with 'the cannon to the 
clou-ouds/ he reached Ms exit and his top-note. 

One of the most sumptuous dinners of the period was 
given at the New Gallery by the International Society of 

236 



1904-1910] THE SLADE PROFESSORSHIP 

Painters,, Sculptors and Engravers, In honour of their Presi 
dent, Rodin. The great sculptor, by the way, with his long 
beard and aquiline nose, looked as if he might have been a 
peasant half-brother to Leopold, King of the Belgians. 
Placed between Shannon and Hugh Lane, ever lively and 
adroit, I enjoyed myself thoroughly, but the splendour of the 
entertainment, in striking contrast to the tweed-suit habits 
of the New English Art Club, and of * Independent * painters 
in general, may have diverted others besides myself. When 
Prince Troubetskoi returned thanks for c The Guests ' in an 
admirable speech, one sentence of it, which was greeted 
with loud applause, stuck pleasantly in my memory: C I 
came over to London this evening expecting to find myself 
in a company of artists : I find myself in a company of 
gentlemen. 5 The portrait-painter, of course, has to play up 
to Ms public with these social displays. But how Whistler, 
the Society's first President, would have crackled and 
chuckled over that distinction ! 

Shannon and Ricketts wished me to join them in the Inter 
national. The New EngHsh, however, was good enough for 
me. Gratitude and admiration alike inspired loyalty. The 
Club had accepted my first obscure exhibits ; its tiny funds 
were handled with such wise economy that it was always on 
the brink of a crisis yet never in debt ; sturdy, smiling Francis 
Bate ruled its affairs and its members like a tactful dictator ; 
its constitution was that rare thing, a practical democracy, 
a proof that such a form of government can work, where the 
citizens are all approximately equal and all intelligent. 

Over my exhibits I will pass as quickly as I can ; most of 
them were painted from my sketches in Switzerland. The 
Myten (November 1903), an oblong essay in blue, was ulti 
mately bought by Charles Rothenstein, after an apprentice 
ship in Carfax's Ryder Street window. The Portsmouth Road^ 
already mentioned, was shown in May 1904, and with it a 
Meiringen^ since destroyed. The Schreckhorn and Finsteraarhorn 
(November 1904) was one of my favourites; Ricketts also 
liked it, but it found no purchaser. In 1905 the demolition 

237 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1904-1910 

of the Egyptian Hall left the New English without a home. 
The little Dudley Gallery had served them well, and the 
substitutes were but makeshifts In comparison; at least 
neither the Royal Institution, Liverpool, to which I sent 
four pictures, nor the Alpine Club Gallery, to which I 
sent two, produced any sales. 

The Alpine Club pair represented scenes on the Gower 
Coast and at Bude 3 from sketches made in 1904 and 1905. 
On our visit to Bude in August 1905, we were accompanied 
by our elder son Martin, born the preceding May. Bude in 
my childhood had seemed a pleasant appendage to my 
father's parish of Stratton. Stratton was now the append 
age; its fine church being a show-place for tourists from 
fashionable Bude. When we were not paying visits, we 
fished for dace in the rather picturesque canal, a sport at 
which my wife became an adept, and I tried to catch bass 
at the end of the breakwater. The too rare excitement of 
playing a fish in the breakers, and landing him somehow 
among the slippery rocks, was enough to atone for many 
blank days. If the bass generally disappointed, certain 
mullet invariably maddened. A shoal, big and apparently- 
unsuspicious, was always cruising over a pool in the little 
estuary, gobbling at an invisible something, yet always dis 
daining the tiniest of baits and trout flies. In despair, I got 
up very early one morning. Sure enough there came a bite 
and a strong fish on the hook which ultimately revealed 
himself as a thick, dark two-pound eel. No mullet was ever 
deceived. 

My Oxford Professorship, so materially convenient in 
view of the increase in my family, filled me with terror as 
the time drew near for delivering the Inaugural Address. 
I had never given a lecture, and since my undergraduate 
days had never heard one. So when, at last, I was marched 
in state between the Principal of Brasenose and Dr. Butler 
to the scene of my trial, I quaked like a fraudulent criminal 
on the point of being found out. My fears came to a head 
when I found myself alone on a platform (I have clean for- 

238 



1904-19*] THE SLADE PROFESSORSHIP 

gotten what the building was), facing, as in an evil dream, 
an immense hemi-cycle of University dignitaries, gowned 
and solemn Inquisitors, all with their eyes upon me. Vox 
faucibus haesit. I could pump up no more than a tremulous 
whisper, and in that started reading to them my 'Practical 
Work as an Aid to the Study of the Fine Arts,' every dull 
sentence driving another nail into my coffin of shame. The 
thing did contain a few poor grains of sense, but they were 
buried under such slabs of pretentious commonplace, and 
were anyhow so little calculated to please an audience 
already pleased with itself, that the faint formal applause 
when I stopped, and the atmosphere of failure in which we 
trudged back to Brasenose, talking most carefully of other 
matters, seemed quite appropriate. 

My aim was to induce people to scrutinize actual works of 
art, by collecting them, handling them, or trying to produce 
them, instead of merely reading art-books and theorizing at 
second-hand,, I began with a series of simple lectures on 
sculpture, and was the better satisfied with my little flock of 
some fifty 'regulars/ when I happened to take down a 
volume of Ruskin from Sotheran's shelves, and opened upon 
a letter in which he confessed that, for all his reputed 
influence, his nucleus of attentive hearers was no larger 
than mine. 

In the summer term of 1905, a series of lectures on 
* Colour* started the inquiry which, resulted in ; Notes on 
the Science of Picture-Making ' (1909). The book was very 
kindly received, and was dedicated to the four friends, 
Ricketts, Binyon, Fry and Dr. Butler, who by introducing 
me successively to Painting, to Writing, to the Burlington 
Magazine/ and to the Slade Professorship, had given me 
my chance in life. Rembrandt's Etchings, my next subject, 
suggested thoughts on the best way of training an artist. 
After appearing in the 'Burlington/ these lectures also were 
worked up into a book, a rather unsuccessful one this time, 
'Notes on the Art of Rembrandt. 3 For this, as for an invalid 
child, I have a peculiar affection. 

239 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1904-1910 

What secret strings connect the brain with the tongue? 
Why does a man speak on one occasion with force and 
fluency, while on another, equally well prepared for, he 
becomes a stammering dullard? Fatigue is not fatal, any 
more than alcohol is an unfailing remedy. Once, after three 
exasperating hours at one of the interminable meetings at 
the Ashmolean, I Jiad to leave the others still disputing, and 
go straight up, thoroughly tired out, to deliver a lecture for 
a fourth hour. To my surprise, and still more, no doubt, to 
that of my Slade audience, I found myself speaking with an 
ease and vigour which I never again attained but once (and 
that was after a civic luncheon !), every sentence coming out, 
pat and grammatical, without the least conscious effort. 
Perhaps because they are sub-conscious, such moods are 
easily interrupted. For example, while enlisting support for 
the c Rokeby Velazquez,' 1 found my eloquence received 
with perplexity, followed by such broad grins on the up 
turned faces below me that I had to look back at the screen. 
My nice new slide of the picture, specially made for the 
occasion, was shrivelling up in the heat of the lantern, and 
Venus had become anything but an object of desire. The 
thread of my speech was destroyed at the same time ; I 
could only laugh and stop talking. 

Among the seniors in my audience, our old family friend, 
Dr. James, the President of St. John's, with Mrs. Daniel and 
Mrs. Famell, are those I remember best. Among my under 
graduate acquaintances, Paul Methuen and R. M. Gleadowe 
had the greatest natural talent for drawing; W. Ormsby- 
Gk>re, afterwards to be a Seraph Abdiel at Trafalgar Square, 
was the leader of a group of keen students from New College, 
including Geoffrey Whitworth, A. K. Cook and A. B. Lloyd- 
Baker ; R. H. Wilenski of Balliol, then as now, took a line 
of his own. 

Had not politics claimed him, Ormsby-Gore would have 
made his mark in the art world. Already he had travelled 
much, seen much, and remembered much. As quick to 
assimilate as to admire, his knowledge and intelligence were 

240 



1904-1910] THE SLADE PROFESSORSHIP 

considerably above even our modern museum-entrance 
standard. When he took up Art as a special subject for 
'Greats 5 he was the first undergraduate, I believe, to do 
so he was awarded only a second class, to my very great 
surprise. Only years later did I learn the reason. To save 
the cost of a special examiner for a single candidate, the 
University entrusted the business to one of its most learned 
and distinguished members. That conscientious scholar, 
when reading up the subject, happened to light upon 
Bode's Leonardo- Verrocchio heresy, and took it for gospel. 
Ormsby-Gore, in consequence, was judged to be incorrect 
for giving the orthodox view of a period which, as I knew, 
he had studied with particular attention. He was also the 
first person whom I met possessing the courage and inde 
pendence 10 admire the Baroque. Overwhelmed by the 
Tiepolo decorations at Wiirzburg, he contemplated a work 
upon that artist in which he might have anticipated some, 
at least, of the ideas with which Wolfflin has since made us 
familiar. 

At first, being still a Brasenose undergraduate, I lectured 
gownless; but from the end of 1907, when the Degree of 
Hon. M.A. was conferred on me, I could don academic 
costume. A. D. Godley, the Public Orator, presented me 
for the Degree. Talking with Mm after the ceremony, I 
happened to ask if there was anything to pay. 'The Uni 
versity has sunk low, 5 was the reply, c but it has not yet sunk 
to charging for Honorary Degrees.' He was optimistic. A 
few days later the Registrar politely requested i 7, explain 
ing that even the Kaiser, much to Ms surprise and indigna 
tion, had been charged for Ms Doctorate. I paid up more 
meekly, but the protests made by others on the occasion led, 
I believe, to the charge being abandoned. 

Some time later I tried very hard to get the University to 
honour Mr. W. H. James Weale, whose great learning and 
independence of character had earned international respect. 
Fate owed him some recompense. Too honest evidence, 
given before the Committee of Inquiry into the administra- 

241 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1904-1910 

tion of South Kensington Museum, had led to his dismissal 
by the authorities from the Library which he had developed 
into the finest thing of its kind. Thrown upon the world, 
he had made a name known to all Europe as the pioneer 
of research in Early Flemish Painting. Now he was old, 
poor and nearly blind. But the Vice- Chancellor was 
dubious. Honorary Degrees ' were for men of higher 
station.' I thought that Oxford might occasionally recog 
nize learning. A London museum authority was consulted, 
who (Heaven forgive him!) described Mr. Weale as 'merely 
a crabbed old scholar. 5 'Well, you see! 3 . . . was the Vice- 
Chancellor's attitude when he showed me the letter. I had 
expected better things of them both, and fear that I said 
so. It was the single favour I had asked during my double 
term of office, and my soreness only subsided at the sight 
of the caricature by Max, s of Lord Curzon conferring 
Honorary Degrees upon a delightfully mixed group of 
popular favourites, including Little Tich. 

Brasenose, though its interests were not generally associ 
ated with the Fine Arts, had given me the welcome of the 
returned Prodigal. For A. J. Jenkinson, with whom I 
breakfasted every week, I quickly conceived a warm affection. 
His sincerity, Ms powder of grasping the essentials of every 
thing from profound philosophy to University finance, his 
cautious good sense and quiet humour, rendered him 
stimulating company, and were obtaining for him a high 
place among Oxford statesmen, when all was ended by a 
cKmbing accident. 

The Ashmolean Museum, under Dr. Arthur Evans, had 
been transformed from an enchanting junk shop into a 
most important and up-to-date institution. That masterful 
archaeologist, its second founder, naturally anxious to 
establish it firmly, and unable to get either the space he 
required, or any adequate grant, from an impoverished 
University Chest, sought to effect some part of his purpose 
by an amalgamation with the University Picture Galleries. 
His plan, no less naturally, failed to appeal either to the 

242 



1904-19*0] THE SLADE PROFESSORSHIP 

Visitors of the Galleries, the body which had long controlled 
the best part of the Taylorian building, or to me when, as an 
appendix, the making of the Slade Professorship into a 
permanency, coupled with keepership of the Picture Gal 
leries, was included. Being convinced, against rny own 
immediate interest and the claims of gratitude, that per 
manency in Art Professorships was a thoroughly bad thing, 
leading always to sterility in the Professor and to indifference 
in his hearers,, I had to resist the proposal, to displease some 
of my best friends, and, incidentally, to be called a liar at one 
of the critical meetings. That was not the last of these 
academic amenities. At a subsequent meeting I felt bound 
to vote in favour of another section of Dr. Evans's proposals, 
and, as I left, a furious member of what had previously been 
my own party hissed in my ear, 'You have betrayed Ruskin. 3 

I was consulted, about the same time, as to what could be 
done to save the damaged Pre-Raphaelite paintings in the 
Library of the Oxford Union Society. Their condition 
seemed to rne desperate, and beyond aid from any process 
of restoration which was then available. Now, it is hoped 
that the skill and experience of Professor Tristram will be 
able to repair, at least in part, the fading and disintegration 
due to the insufficiency of the original ground. At the time 
I could only suggest the making of a record by photography. 
This was most ably done by Mr. W. E. Gray, and the results 
published by the University Press, with an account of the 
paintings by Holman Hunt. When I looked up the book 
just now, I found that a Press cutting had slipped into it, a 
column of rebuke to me, in an evening paper of 1908, for 
having written to the c Times 5 in favour of tolerance for 
Epstein's statues on the British Medical Building. It was an 
odd coincidence, since Epstein's statues and the Union 
paintings are at this very time (May 1935) once more 
occupying public attention together. 

The University Galleries, then, were pleasant, but very 
much smaller than they are now. Having no special room 
for receiving undergraduates, when they came for advice or 

243 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1904-1910 

informal teaching, I prowled about as chance led me. One 
day I discovered a tiny lumber-room, and rummaging there, 
on the floor, among the dusty cast-offs, I lighted upon quite 
a little group of panels by Van Dyck and Rubens, and a 
picture by Wilson, all of which were duly placed on exhibi 
tion. It was pleasant to be in a place where such finds might 
still be made. 

Another day I happened to be with Sidney Colvin, as he 
was going through the last batch of drawings for his great 
publication on the collections at Oxford. Under them lay 
a huge brown-paper parcel of things rejected by everyone. 
Colvin did not want it, so I untied the string and turned over 
the scraps. The majority deserved their fate : but the find 
ing of one interesting cartoon encouraged me to persevere. 
Suddenly there came to light a ferocious Head of a Warrior., 
which almost took my breath away. The head was plainly 
that of the central figure in The Battle oJAnghiari by Leonardo 
da Vinci ; moreover, though considerably retouched, it was 
from the master's own hand. Colvin at first pooh-poohed it, 
being more than doubtful of Its authenticity, but by the time 
he published it, the drawing was recognized as being, 
probably, the single fragment of Leonardo's famous cartoon 
that has survived contemporary admiration. 

Lord Curzon's appointment to the Chancellorship pro 
vided Oxford with several mild excitements and one or two 
stately dinners. Mr. Arthur Balfour also came down for a 
day to deliver his Romanes lecture on Criticism and Beauty * 
in the Sheldonian. I listened with growing bewilderment, 
till my neighbour, Jenkinson, whispered 'This is all straight 
out of your book 3 (The Science of Picture-Making) . Lunch 
in Magdalen was to follow. On the way thither Lord 
Curzon passed me, as was perhaps natural at such a time, 
without a sign of recognition. When I came into Magdalen 
Hall, the President advanced from the group of great ones 
standing by the fireplace, to tell me that Mr. Balfour wished 
to make my acquaintance. 'You will know,' said Mr. Bal 
four, on my introduction, * where most of that lecture came 

244 



1904-1910] THE SLADE PROFESSORSHIP 

from.* Then Lord Curzon, seeing us laughing and talking 
together, bore down beaming, with hand outstretched, greet 
ing me by name as if I was an old and valued friend. 
Mr. Balfour afterwards sent me a copy of his lecture ; it had 
been almost entirely rewritten. 

He seemed to prefer raising difficulties to finding,^ or 
approving, any practical solution for them. Were it not for 
that Irish Secretaryship one might think of him, with all his 
intellect and charm of manner, as an ineffectual angel. Did 
the energy and courage which ie then displayed exhaust 
prematurely such capacity for action as he possessed? There 
must have been some strain of weakness in him, or he could 
not, w r hen John's name was proposed to him for painting his 
portrait, have hesitated between that master, then at the 
climax of his early power., and Lady Granby. 

At the end of 1907 I was unanimously re-elected Professor 
for "a further term of three years, in accordance with the 
general custom, Lionel Oust being, I believe, the only rival 
candidate. The latter part of my time was chiefly occupied 
by a series of lectures on Raphael, as illustrated by the 
wonderful group of his drawings in the University Galleries. 
I had hoped to follow them by a similar series on Michel 
angelo, but had only time for an introductory lecture on 
that artist before other interests claimed me. Michelangelo 
proved, however, so popular a subject, that my lecture-room 
and all the space outside was crammed, until people had to 
be turned away from the entrance-door; an experience 
as unexpected as unique. 

My last series dealt with 'Heredity in Royal Portraits,' to 
me, at least, a fascinating sidelight on Mendelism. The 
lectures were afterwards repeated at the Royal Institution. 
It was proving, however, more and more difficult to reconcile 
my duties as Professor with the claims of the work I was now 
undertaking at the National Portrait Gallery, so I decided to 
retire before the end of my second term of office. It was, 
perhaps, well that I did so, for at the moment I must have 
said all that I could say with any freshness. Indeed, when 

245 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1904-1910 

deKvering my valedictory lecture I nearly fell asleep on the 

platform. Waking myself with an effort, I wound up some 
how, twenty-five minutes before the customary closing-time. 

While planning the lectures on Raphael and Michelangelo, 
it was necessary to see Italy once more. Thither accordingly 
I went in April 1906; first to stately Turin, and thence by 
Genoa southwards. The fever-haunted Tuscan Maremma 
with its bays and capes, and names like Talamone recalling 
its early Greek invaders, looked enchanting in the morning 
sunshine ; then came the grassy swells and ruined aqueducts 
of the Campagna and the dome of S. Peter's beyond them. 
The Vatican far exceeded expectation. Nothing had pre 
pared me for the superb colour of the Sistine ceiling as 
unique in its calculated, stimulating restraint as the godlike 
forms with which it is allied. Nothing had prepared me for 
the vigour and variety of Raphael, conquering one immense 
field of design after another. It was long before I could 
reconcile the noble decorator of the Stanze with the painter 
of over-sweet Madonnas and sentimental saints, nor did the 
reconciliation, if I may judge by the present sales of my little 
book on Raphael, satisfy many people except myself. 

From these great impressions, and from the Forum, then 
but partially excavated by Boni, I had to tear myself in order 
to fit in a visit to Naples. The mountains of the Abrazzi, 
storm-swept and snow-flecked, great ruined castles by the 
wayside, and a meal with the most delicious Orvieto wine, 
unobtainable, alas ! in England, passed the time delightfully 
until the great pointed cone of Vesuvius appeared. Sud 
denly one little puff of black smoke sailed up from the 
summit, exciting the group of gold-braided officers in the 
carriage with me. Such things prefaced an eruption. That 
night the cone was marked by a dull red smear, high up in 
the sky. Next morning I woke in a drift of gray volcanic 
dust. Looking from above over the long city and the curve 
of the bay, one could see the mountain as a vast gray 
silhouette, from which huge volumes of dark smoke were 
pumping up, impelled by a pressure so obviously terrific as 

246 



igo4-i9 I0 l THE SLADE PROFESSORSHIP 

to suggest the possibility at any moment of some catastrophic 
explosion. Far above the mountain the smoke spread out 
into a great canopy, and in the shadow of that canopy I set 
about seeing the sights; the famous Aquarium with its 
harsh, much-vaunted decorations by Hans von Marees, the 
untidy Picture Gallery with its fine, desiccated Titians, its 
wonderful Brueghel, and, above all, the Museum with its 
treasures of sculpture and decoration from Herculaneum. 
If the bust known as Plato showed what bronze could become 
in the hands of a consummate artist, the beauty of ordinary 
Greco-Roman furniture and household utensils proved that 
the first century w r as not inferior to the eighteenth in crafts 
manship and the amenities of life. 

Can the printing-press, the one great invention unknown 
to Imperial Rome, save us from a collapse like hers? Or is 
it merely a culture-medium and carrier for the germs of 
corruption? Even its appeal to man's reason provides him, 
through science, with new means of self-annihilation : its 
appeal to his vanities and passions makes that end not 
infrequently seem the best thing for all concerned. But why 
this moralizing? It's a case of mentem et mortalia tangunt, I 
suppose. When, as an undergraduate, I was wandering 
with Cripps about the old Ashmolean Museum, Pater 
happened to come up to us with Dr. Bussell. I had been 
amused by a Roman child's toy, a bird on wheels, and 
ventured to say so. 'These things always make me rather 
sad, 3 answered Pater, and moved on. 

The other sights of Naples included a magnificent spec 
tacle of the cloud-capped volcano, seen across the Bay from 
Posilipo, and aflame with sunset fires. Turner doubtless 
would have transformed such a subject into a pictorial 
harmony; my repeated attempts were quite horrible. It 
was now time for Pompeii. But I had delayed too long in 
Naples ; the railway was damaged, and Pompeii had become 
forbidden ground. Only Avernus and the Bay of Baiae 
remained. 

Under the canopy of ashes, a strong wind made Naples so 

247 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1904-1910 

cold that a top-coat was a comfort. As the train drew 
towards Baia, I copied my fellow-travellers by emptying out 
of my boots the gray dust which had penetrated into them, 
as into all one's other belongings. Brown or, more often, 
bright yellow boots, with a dark suit, top-coat, and black 
bowler, were the local fashion; by Imitating it I passed 
unchallenged through the cloud of mendicants, touts, 
'guides 5 and parasites which buzzed round the station exit 
at Baia to settle upon the tourists. Here we were outside the 
shadow of the eruption ; the thunderous grays and blues of 
Vesuvius were far behind us; the slopes towards the bay 
with their ancient overgrown ruins, immortalized by Wilson 
and Turner, looked enchanting in the pallid sunshine. As I 
marched along towards Cumae, sketching, the sun grew 
hotter and hotter, and long before I reached Avernus on my 
way back I regretted my top-coat, and looked about in vain 
for some conveyance. Avernus with its vineyards, its neat 
stone coping and clear brown water, dimpled apparently by 
small fish, was anything but the deadly lake of tradition, 
though Its cliff rampart was noble enough. Hot and foot 
sore., I skipped the Solfatara, making for Posilipo and the 
nearest tavern to order half a litre of red wine. 'Una 
cinquanta, 3 said the smiling padrona as she passed me the 
glass. I smiled, shook my head, went out, and was well into 
the road before there came a rush behind me and e Venti- 
cinque, Signer. * Sitting over my wine, I could contemplate 
at Lucretian ease three very nicely dressed English tourists, 
being followed, each to his furious embarrassment, by a 
regular queue of pressing, gabbling mendicants, and thank 
God for my brown boots. 

The next morning broke in a downpour of gray mud 
ashes mixed with rain which darkened the sky and left a 
thick deposit on every person and every window-pane. 
There was nothing for it but to get back to Rome, where my 
friend Cripps was to join me. Outside Naples, the upper 
most curve of Vesuvius still showed faintly through the 
Dantesque murk for a few moments; then it was over- 

248 



1904-1910] THE SLADE PROFESSORSHIP 

whelmed, remaining invisible, I was told, for about a 
fortnight. During that time mud and ashes rained upon 
Naples till the deposit, some two feet thick, brought down 
the roof of the market upon its unlucky inmates. When 
Vesuvius was seen again, the ridge of Monte Somma had 
become the summit. The former cone, six hundred feet 
high, had all been blown away. 

Cripps and I set to work on Roman antiquities, not, of 
course, forgetting the pictures. When the main part of the 
day's work was done, I made sketches on the Palatine and 
elsewhere, though none of these proved as useful as the 
Neapolitan studies made under more exciting conditions. 
Others may be able to dispense with external stimuli to the 
pictorial imagination, or to create substitutes for it in the 
modern fashion. My old-fashioned engine has no self-starter, 
and will only fire when it is wound up very sharply. Sud 
denly I became unwell, more probably from overwork than 
from the Roman climate, which I suspected at the time. 
Shannon had had a similar experience there six weeks 
earlier, when Ricketts wrote, e l tried to poison him with 
strychnine, I gave him 8 times his proper dose.' 

We fled to the hill air of Arezzo to recoup, and to admire 
Piero della Francesca, amid dust and scaffolding, before 
going on to Florence. Florence, since our previous visit, had 
changed greatly. The Germans, now more numerous, more 
prosperous, and more open-handed than English visitors, 
had replaced them in popular favour. Barile's, starred in 
Baedeker, and redecorated to suit its new clients, had 
become cosmopolitan and commonplace. Even in our little 
Italian locanda we found a German art-student with whom, 
when his English and my German ran out, I discussed 
Florentine Art in Latin. Home showed us over the bare, 
newly purchased Palace which was to become his Museum. 
Cripps's uncle, Colonel Young, produced the manuscript of 
his book on the Medici, and a most welcome shoulder of 
mutton at dinner. This afterwards earned for him a kindly 
review of the book ; the single occasion on which I allowed 

249 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1904-1910 

strict editorial justice to be mitigated by gratitude. Indeed 
I was so tired by work on Bonatello, Verrocchio and Michel 
angelo, not to mention other Florentine worthies, that 
Italian food and wine had ceased to reinvigorate. That 
memorable joint made a new man of me for the time being. 
After revising and augmenting previous impressions at 
Bologna and Milan, we travelled home, meeting Ormsby- 
Gore en route. Night was falling when the train stopped 
outside Lucerne for a few minutes in a snowy wilderness, as 
desolate and impressive as a winter scene by Hokusai. Red 
Ruin,, Lucerne., now in the Tate Gallery, was one of the 
indirect results. 

That summer (1906) the New English held the first of 
several exhibitions in a little gallery tucked away among the 
larger buildings of Bering Yard. Three phases of the 
Vesuvius eruption figured there, and in the autumn I sent a 
View on the Reuss> Lucerne, not badly painted, but too low in 
tone for popularity. It had been sketched a few minutes 
before the Red Ruin., which picture, with several others, I 
brought to Bering Yard for the next exhibition in May 1907. 
Steer happened to be in the gallery as I entered with them, 
and on seeing the Red Ruin remarked, c That must have been 
a pretty cold place. It makes me shiver to look at it. 5 
Interpreting the words as a kindly criticism of the picture's 
tone, I waited till Steer had gone, chartered a cab and took 
the thing away. It was late on Saturday afternoon, and 
Fred Winter, our kind and experienced secretary, assured 
me that if I returned it quite early on Monday morning it 
would not be too late for the Selecting Jury. Retouching 
would do the picture no good; it was already too heavy. 
It would have to be copied. 

My painting-room at 73 Ladbroke Grove was a high front 
room on the ground floor, with a large window facing north 
east. Never before or since did I work in a light so trust 
worthy. The little back-bedrooms wherein I usually paint, 
where the canvas has to be close to the window and to be 
lighted from the side, tend to flatter the painter, and the 

250 



THE SLADE PROFESSORSHIP 

tones need much revision before they can hold their own in 
any more direct and penetrating illumination. At Ladbroke 
Grove no such revision was needed. What was wrong looked 
wrong at once, so the work I did during our seven years' 
residence there was, I believe, more consistently respectable 
than at any other period of my life. Anyhow I found it 
easy enough on that Sunday morning (my only time for 
painting) to make a copy of the Red Ruin, the same size as 
the original, using turpentine as a medium to help quick 
drying. This copy went to Bering Yard, was subsequently 
chosen by Robbie Ross for the Contemporary Art Society 
and, under their patronage, passed into the Tate Gallery. 
My wife, with her customary insight, preferred and claimed 
the first version. This, when I see it at Appleby, appears to 
have acquired a weight, a substance and a grimness which 
the replica at Millbank does not possess. 

Our summer holiday in 1906 was spent at Middleton, 
Teesdale, where the sight of High Force, the grandest of 
English waterfalls, and of the Bowes Museum, in its incom 
plete state the oddest thing of its kind, with some indifferent 
trout-fishing and an adventure with a salmon, were the only 
memorable events. The fish was landed on trout tackle, 
without a landing-net, but kicked himself out of my arms 
and back into the river when I tried to climb up the rocks 
with him. The next summer, when we took Martin and the 
newly arrived Robin to Littlehampton, had one unexpected 
result, connected neither with sight-seeing nor with sport. 
I went fishing, of course. Experience at Bude had taught me, 
I imagined, the ways of bass. So when I went down to the 
river for the first time, at the proper state of the tide, with 
the proper tackle and bait, I was not in the least surprised 
to hook and land a five-pounder within ten minutes of nay 
arrival. Filled with confidence I went down again and again, 
but was never rewarded by another bite for five whole weeks. 
Then I did catch a small bass, but only while fishing (in 
vain, as usual) for mullet. 

My solitary adventure during this barren time began with 

251 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1904-1910 

the discovery of a conger eel In a pool at the end of the pier. 
There followed his hooking with an improvised gaff just as 
the tide rose round us both, his splashing quietus inflicted 
with a stretcher borrowed from a passing boat, and then, 
as finale, a laborious climb with him, other means of retreat 
being cut off by the rising tide, from the sea to the top of the 
pier head. As he weighed over six pounds he was no more 
agreeable as a burden than he was when subsequently 
cooked by our landlady. 

If anglers as a class succeeded as rarely as I do, the 
Johnsonian repute of the craft would be well deserved. 
Personally I console myself with the belief that Providence 
mulcts me in fish and other sporting quarry, as a 'set off' 
against her generosity in things more important. When I 
have consistent bad luck in fishing, I console myself by 
thinking that good luck is coming elsewhere. Anyhow it is 
a comfortable faith for a duffer, and I have never looked up 
my fishing diaries to see what disasters have followed an 
occasional red-letter day by the waterside. 

The sequel I connect with my Littlehampton failures is an 
odd one. The sheds and craft by the Arun provided plenty 
of sketching material that was picturesque, but had little of 
the "importance 3 which I thought necessary for an oil- 
painting. On my return it occurred to me that drawings 
from some of my sketches might be saleable when pictures 
were not; but who was I to make any drawings up to the 
standard of the New English and its Slade School virtuosi? 
My natural preference was for a pen-and-wash method, 
corresponding more or less to the pencil-drawings I made 
from nature when they had been 'fixed 5 afterwards with 
water-colour. There, however, the way was barred by 
Muirhead Bone and others. Anything which I tried would 
only seem a feeble imitation of much better men. 

Turning to the manuscript embryo of my 'Science of 
Picture-Making, 3 I sought for guidance there, as I still do 
sometimes. A series of experiments followed which lasted 
two or three months. After treating the same or similar 

252 



i 9 04-i9 I0 3 THE SLADE PROFESSORSHIP 

subjects with every variety of material and method, I came 
to a definite conclusion. Black chalk upon white paper 
could provide a firm foundation for almost any type of 
design. Washes of colour, if tactfully added, would not only 
clothe the nakedness of this beginning, but would them 
selves acquire a certain c muted purity/ as a critic once put 
it, from the grains of chalk incorporated with them in the 
process. This chalk s presumably from containing much 
carbon, had a tendency, I found afterwards, to absorb a little 
of the more delicate colouring matter, so that some of my 
earlier drawings are now more skeletal than at their first 
appearance. I allowed for this tendency later by reinforcing 
the colour schemes. 

The first products of all this labour were shown at Dowdes- 
welTs in the winter of 1907, and at the New English in the 
spring of 1908. Naturally they were overwhelmed by the 
work of men like Steer and John, then near the summit of 
their power. Nor can I find that the drawings attracted 
particular notice when Carfax gave me my first c one man 
show 5 in January 1909, although they numbered eighteen 
out of twenty-eight exhibits, and I sold several of them. One 
of the oil-paintings was the Biasca, now at Manchester; 
another. The Power Station (1907), was my first elaborate effort 
at an Industrial subject. A third picture. High Cup Nick 
from Applebys had a queer technical history. Somebody 
persuaded me to try a new petroleum medium warranted 
to be perfection a German compound, I think. And per 
fection it was, so far as ease of execution went. High Cup 
Mick was begun and finished, with unusual brilliancy of 
effect, in a single Sunday morning. After lunch I strolled 
in to admire it, and found to my disgust that the master 
piece was already a network of small but steadily expanding 
cracks. There was nothing for it but to repaint the whole 
picture at once with linseed oil. The brightness was some 
what dulled, but the surface was sound, and remained so. 

Linseed oil reminds me of another experience. Rougemont, 
an exhibit at the New English in the spring of 1908, was 

253 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1904-1910 

painted from a landscape which appeared to me in a vivid 
dream, and which I contrived to memorize before waking. 
I happened at the time to be studying the tradition of the 
brothers Van Eyck, and wondered if their famous medium 
had not been simply good linseed oil. Having a smooth 
canvas, prepared with thick flake white,, as a substitute for 
a fifteenth-century panel, I painted my dream-picture upon 
it with a small sable brush. Contrary to expectation, the 
method proved exceedingly rapid. It was quite easy to 
draw innumerable mountains, rocks, and fir-trees with the 
fine point; indeed I fancy that 'old 5 Brueghel may have 
used some such method, since the quality obtained had some 
resemblance to his. The picture dried with just the smooth 
glassy surface I had hoped for, and held its own quite 
respectably at the New English. After the show I put it 
aside to wait for varnishing. But when I pulled it out from 
a stack of such things a twelvemonth later, I found that the 
film of paint had remained comparatively soft ; every little 
rub and scratch had penetrated to the white ground. In 
despair of mending the damages, I cleaned the whole picture 
off, and painted something else, I forget what, upon the 
canvas. 

In spite of a rather formidable exterior, the house at 
73 Ladbroke Grove, to which we moved in 1907 before the 
birth of my second son Robin, had some attractive features. 
The lofty hall, and the stairs, far too many for comfort and 
too steep at the turns for safety, were wonderfully light and 
spacious. The dining-room windows opened upon a broad 
terrace, and thence a flight of steps led down to a large 
garden, which the community allowed to run wild without 
becoming squalid. The prospect from the upper windows 
included the spires of Richmond and of Harrow; of the 
merits of the painting-room I have spoken already. We did 
not, of course, escape the usual domestic troubles. It was 
infiiriating to be served with black coffee (and to drink it 5 
alas!), after a slipshod Italian manservant had wiped the 
cups with paraffin. It was still more annoying to find myself 

254 



1904-1910] THE SLADE PROFESSORSHIP 

pushing and carrying a big, smiling, tipsy cook up four long 
flights of stairs, at the very hour when I ought to have 
been sitting in comfort at the dinner given in honour of 
Robbie Ross. Yet a pleasant memory of that staircase 
remains; Two furniture men had struggled in vain upon it 
with an oak wardrobe, which finally fell from them and 
knocked a big hole in the wall. Our young Swedish man 
servant, Erik, could contain himself no longer. He had the 
whole wardrobe hoisted on to his back and walked up with 
it easily and unaided. No wonder the soldiers of Charles 
XII carried all before them ! 

The most notable catastrophe occurred while we were 
staying at Cambridge with Professor and Mrs. Seward, for a 
lecture which I was to deliver. In the middle of it, I was 
aware of a telegram brought into the lecture-room and 
passed up to my wife. She turned white as she read it, but 
remained in her seat until I had managed to wind up 
my discourse. The message, c House flooded children safe 
Elizabeth, 3 appeared quite incomprehensible. We hastened 
back anxiously to a dwelling which, standing high upon the 
very summit of a considerable hill, seemed safe from any 
flood that had not also iiivolved the whole Thames valley. 

What had really happened proved to be as simple as it 
was disgusting. A parlour-maid, never conspicuous for 
intelligence, had decided on the previous evening to take a 
bath. Adjourning to my dressing-room on the third floor, 
she turned on both the bath-taps, and went upstairs to get 
ready, shutting the door behind her. Then she entirely 
forgot her laudable purpose. The bath duly filled and over 
flowed. A little water got out under the door and ran down 
the stairs : the remainder formed a pool some two feet deep, 
which soaked through my big wardrobe cupboard (ruining, 
among other things, three new hats just sent on approval), 
as well as by the edges of the cork-carpet, and descended 
to the drawing-room, via the walls, the pictures and the 
book-cases. When these and the carpet were saturated, it 
accumulated between the floor joists. Thence, now com- 

255 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1904-1910 

pletely befouled, it burst through into the dining-room, once 
more over books and pictures, stopping only when it reached 
the basement and found no further exit. Weeks passed 
before we could start repairing the damage ; months passed 
before we got rid of the dampness and the smell. Most of 
my pictures had to be repaired and relined ; many of the 
books never recovered at all. 

Our principal festivity was an entertainment every Christ 
mas for the children and their grandmother, for the old lady 
now could seldom get over from Richmond to see them. 
My wife invented the annual programme, the setting and 
the dresses, these last being made by our faithful Elizabeth 
Lowis, who had been my wife's maid before her marriage, 
and was now the children's Nannie. Robin began his 
appearances in public before he could walk, by climbing out 
of a chimney in the dress of a Teddy Bear, with antics which 
delighted his godfather Ricketts. The next year the pair 
figured as green elves in a play with their clever little 
Fraulein, who shortly afterwards was summarily claimed 
and carried off, not without some misgiving I fancy, by a 
tall, dark and imperious German fiance. 

The following New Year's Eve produced a more elaborate 
show 7 , and was attended by a considerable gathering. The 
drawing-room was stripped and turned into a winter land 
scape, with frosted lights and a white floor set with small 
fir-trees, among which the boys and two little daughters of 
my friend Richard Saunderson danced to music composed 
by my wife. The effect of these graceful little white figures 
winding through the trees was quite enchanting. When the 
children had gone to bed, their seniors made the evening 
still more memorable for us by sundry pseudo-dramatic 
tableaux. Harold Child as Dr. Faustus was taken over his 
books by a most uncanny and convincing devil (Walter 
Sickert, I believe) : from beneath the waves of a dust-sheet 
rose the brawny, hairy arm of Strang extending a tin 
Excalibur, to be seized by a learned historian, drawn in as 
a tottering King Arthur upon a child's wheeled trolley. 

256 



1904-19^0] THE SLADE PROFESSORSHIP 

Then after supper we all turned out on to the terrace by 
the dining-room, to welcome the New Year 1909 under' 
the stars. 

In the summer of 1908 we were invited to King Edward's 
garden-party at Windsor, the first, I believe, of its kind, 
and much smaller than its successors of to-day. For us the 
experience was wholly novel and delightful, though it might 
have been rather trying, since of course we knew hardly 
anyone there, but for the protection of my aunt Lady 
Holmes. We then went north to Espland, a farm-house on 
the moors above Appleby. There the children ran wild 
during the summer months, for more than one season. 
Immediately under the range of the Pennines and sur 
rounded by great sweeps of heather, Espland was a fine 
centre for walking and sketching, though the fare and 
accommodation were rough, too rough, I fear, for visitors 
accustomed to the luxuries of a 'cottage 5 in the Home 
Counties. Roman Fell, Murton Pike and the pyramid of 
Dufton were landmarks for the drifting clouds ; High Cup 
Nick, the great gloomy gorge in the Pennines, was within 
walking distance; the Ghyll below the farm contained an 
agreeably grim thero-morphic crag, The Monster on the Moor 
of my Carfax show in 1909 ; altogether a wonderful range 
of material for pictures. 

My wife's musical gifts naturally introduced me to far 
more people and performances connected with her art than 
I had ever encountered before. The majestic bulk, acute 
intellect and world-\vide experience of her teacher August 
Wilhelmj impressed me most of all. When he took up a 
fiddle to play to us after dinner, the poor thing dwindled 
to a child's toy upon his colossal torso, yet as he bent over 
it smiling he produced a tone of such overwhelming grandeur 
that all other violin-playing I ever heard, Isaye and Joachim 
not excepted, seemed the product of some smaller instru 
ment fit to accompany the divine clarinet of a MiiHfeldt, 
but not in itself an organ or an orchestra. Not less remark 
able than the power thus displayed was the impression of a 

257 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1904-1910 

still greater power held in reserve, behind the perfect 
balance between feeling and knowledge which his rendering 
maintained. With aH his musical dignity Wilhelmj was a 
festive sou! 2 enjoying the good things and the good stories 
of this world, as did his brilliant wife. I remember at their 
house the Chevalier de Munck, who married Carlotta 
Patti, telling us of a visit to Milan, where they found the 
big looking-glass in their hotel suite with a hole smashed in 
the middle of it. ' I bet Adelina and Strakosch (her brother- 
in-law and musical director) have been here/ was Car- 
lotta's remark. And so it proved to be. Adelina, in youth, 
was handy with a hair-brush. 

Of my wife's own musical enterprises at that time I 
particularly remember three. The first was a very successful 
concert given at the Star and Garter, Richmond, in 1904, 
in aid of the Rochester Diocesan Society, of which my 
mother was then the indefatigable secretary. The following 
year was occupied far more seriously in arranging three 
historical Recitals at the Salle Erard, to illustrate the use 
of the violin in the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth 
centuries. The last two were postponed, owing to illness, to 
the spring of 1906, and only a small audience attended the 
first Recital, in November 1905. But the works by PurceU 
and his forerunners, which were then given, threw so much 
light upon the evolution of violin music as to attract con 
siderable notice in the Press, and much larger audiences 
for the subsequent 'periods. 5 Third, and most sumptuous, 
came a performance of my wife's own compositions in 
Shannon's big studio in Lansdowne Road, he and Ricketts 
allowing the whole place to be turned topsy-turvy, and doing 
everything for us with a princely disregard for their pockets 
and their convenience. 



258 



CHAPTER XV 

THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY (i) 

(1909-1911) 

Lionel Gust retires; fishing at Hawes; my appointment; 
J. D. Milner; Lord Dillon; the Trustees; needs of the Gallery ; 
a ' Burlington ' dinner ; T. W. Bacon ; Ricketts v. Fry at 
Oxford; P. H. Lee-Warner; some curious portraits; poach 
ing at Barnard Castle ; the Post-Impressionist controversy ; the 
New English Art Club at its best; books and personages; 
Rembrandt's Mill', Mr. Asquith. 

IN the spring of 1909, Lionel Gust had so much trouble 
with his eyesight that he decided to retire from the Director 
ship of the National Portrait Gallery. In July he asked me 
to come and see him. I found him seated, as usual, at the 
end of the long table in the Gallery Board Room, with its 
big windows, tall glazed book-cases and cheerful fireplace, 
the very model of what a Director's room should be. Gust 
was wearing dark blue glasses, and seemed worried over 
the future of the Gallery. He wished to leave it in hands 
that he could trust. Having expressed my sympathy, I 
left, only to be summoned again two days later. He had 
hoped that what he had told me would have led me to 
apply for the vacancy. Such an idea had never entered my 
head. I was no specialist on English Portraiture, and could 
not possibly stand in the way of those who were. At the 
moment, too, my combined professorship and editorship 
brought in considerably more than the official salary, ^500 ; 
others might not be so fortunate. 

Gust then explained the real origin of his anxiety. Political 
or persona! influence was being used in favour of certain 
unnamed candidates, ill-fitted in his opinion either to main 
tain the reputation of the Gallery or to satisfy the Trustees, 
who, being gentlemen of the Old School, set, and expected, 

259 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1909-1911 

a high standard of manners and character. Could I but 
submit my name, that would make a political job very diffi 
cult, if not impossible. Two friends, C. F. Bell of the Ash- 
molean Museum, who had organized the notable exhibitions 
of Oxford portraits, and Binyon, who had long been work 
ing on the English drawings at the British Museum, were 
clearly much better men for the post ; and I said so. c Well/ 
replied Cust, 'say what you please about others, so long as 
you send in your own name to make things quite safe. 5 I 
wrote a few lines accordingly to the Treasury, saying that 
if both Bell and Binyon should decline the Directorship, I 
was willing to submit my own name, and then went off for 
our family holiday to Hawes in Yorkshire. 

While prospecting there in the spring, I got an hour or 
two by the Yore. There were plenty of trout, but they seemed 
curiously difficult. At last with a tiny Black Midge I caught 
one half-pounder, and was lying flat on the shingle to seduce 
another, when two stout anglers came down the bank and 
saw my fish. e How long have you been at it? 3 asked one. 
4 Nearly an hour and a half/ I replied with some shame. 
'Well/ said my questioner, c we've been here nearly a fort 
night and have only taken two/ Nevertheless I managed 
to get a second fish, and thoroughly satisfied therewith, 
engaged lodgings for the summer. 

It was raining when we arrived at the end of July, but the 
moment the rain stopped I went down for half-an-hour, to 
a place by the road which I had noted as good for spinning 
a minnow. Having caught a brace of nice fish, as expected, 
I went back to lunch, to be received almost with reverence 
by our hostesses. I did not understand their surprise until 
I had flogged that pleasant water for another three weeks, 
without catching a single trout. Then, after heavy rain, the 
sun came out one evening. All over the turbid stream the 
fish rose, and took Tup's Fancy without hesitation. But my 
casts must have been ruined by use in the preceding weeks 
of drought. Eight several fish did I hook only to be igno- 
miniously broken, until all my Tups were gone, and the rise 

260 



THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY 

was over. One fish, indeed, I got with the minnow, a week 
later, but that was the end of my luck. Blades the postman, 
the great local angler, told me that such caprice was no new 
thing. During the first fortnight of his own holiday he had 
caught only three fish; in the third week he caught over 
ninety. 

If Hawes was no easy Paradise for the fisherman, it pro 
vided good material for the sketcher. I was reminded that 
the great Steer had honoured it with his patronage, by find 
ing his side view immortalized upon a picture-postcard of 
Hardraw Force. The droop of the cigarette under the 
moustache was a hall-mark in itself. Steer saw the place 
in sunshine: I found wet weather more pictorial. The 
clouds beating up from the west clung almost every after 
noon to the summit of the Pennines, and spread impressive 
shadows across the valley below. Every turn of the river 3 
every stroll up the tributary streams, provided new fore 
grounds and new summits from Swaledale to Ribblehead. 
One very strenuous day was devoted to Gordale Scar and 
Malham Cove, where I clambered and sketched and walked 
to weariness. But these stupendous natural features were too 
much for my limited art. I was no Turner or James Ward, 
and could make nothing of them. 

My wife was much hindered in her movements by an 
attack of rheumatic fever, but she very pluckily scaled the 
Butter Tubs Pass, and on a memorable occasion went with 
me to Aysgarth Falls. I was riding a bicycle hired locally 
for sixpence, and tied up in places with string. Being un 
accustomed to its free-wheel and other novelties, I began 
by running into a motor-car (fortunately it pulled up), and 
falling off amid shouts of laughter from all concerned. No 
other serious incident happened till we came to the long, 
steep descent into Aysgarth. There the string of the brake 
snapped, and I ran downhill headlong past my wife, and 
everything else, faster and faster, until below me appeared 
a sharp turning with a nasty stone wall against which I 
must soon be smashed. Looking in desperation at the high, 

261 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1909-1911 

steep banks on each side of the road, I saw a path running 
abruptly up the bank to my left, and to it turned my furious 
wheels. By some miracle they climbed right up that narrow 

incline, and pitched me off at the top 3 quite gently, under 
a signpost inscribed 'To Aysgarth Falls. 3 

We were to leave Haw r es on August 2 8th. On the morn 
ing of the syth, a letter was handed to me marked c Prime 
Minister. 5 It offered me the National Portrait Gallery 
Directorship. Mr. Asquith feels sure that the position will 
be one of great interest to you, and will give you much scope 
for your knowledge of art, and for those qualifications which 
he has heard from all sides that you possess for a post of this 
importance/ My superstition, that complete failure as a 
fisherman spelled success in other things, became thence 
forward a faith. The surprise was complete, for I had 
expected no result from my little note except the appoint 
ment of Bell or Binyon, and still more complete to my 
relatives and friends, who naturally had no idea that I was 
even a candidate. But when in London I apologized for 
the curtness of my application, the answer was c Not at all. 
If you care to see how not to apply for a post, here' and a 
big bulging envelope was produced c is the dossier of a 
candidate for another place, containing fifty-three letters 
of recommendation from persons of no importance.' Sundry 
conditions were named; I could not remain a Director of 
the 'Burlington'; I could not well remain its responsible 
editor; and since at first there would be much to do and 
to learn, I might find the work incompatible with an 
extended tenure of the Slade Professorship. 

When the appointment was announced it was received 
surprisingly well. Everyone seemed to think I could manage 
the work : nobody stressed my ignorance of Portraits. What 
gratified me particularly was the almost universal wish that 
I should not give up the 'Burlington.' Our efforts to estab 
lish a sort of nucleus of practical sense in administration and 
of tolerance in criticism, had not, apparently, failed. 

262 



igog-ign] THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY 

The letter which touched and troubled me most came 
from Robbie Ross. He, it appeared, had been among the 
candidates, and possibly one of the subjects of Gust's mysteri 
ous reference. He was a personal friend of the Prime 
Minister, yet his support of Oscar Wilde in the last unhappy 
years of his life, for which Ross was honoured by us all, might 
actually have created a prejudice against him in quarters 
where the very name of Wilde was still taboo. Anyhow, it 
was now too late to withdraw and, if we were fairly matched 
in our ignorance of National Portraits, Ross both in private 
means and in social attractiveness was much better equipped 
for facing the world. 

Walter Sickert wrote under no such disadvantage. 6 1 now 
await with impatience and, I may say, not without some 
indignation, your shamefully-deferred appointment as Arch 
bishop of Canterbury, Inspector of Nuisances to the L.C.C., 
and house-surgeon of St. Thomas's Hospital. I shall shortly 
offer you in your last capacity a portrait of George Jacob 
Holyoake. Also I wish to apply for your vacant chair at 
Oxford, if I am rightly informed that you are "leaving." If 
not I shall do nothing. Soyez rassure. Vous n'avez rien a 
craindre de yours always Walter Sickert. 5 Oxford, however, 
expressed the wish that I should not resign abruptly, so I 
postponed action till the beginning of 1910. 

Gust, in due course, introduced me to the Gallery, where 
I had to get through my first formal interview with my future 
assistant^ J. D. Milner. Of course I had long known Milner 
as an invaluable helper when any iconographic problem had 
to be tackled; indeed this gentle, blushing pupil of Sir 
George Scharf was so vastly my superior, not only in the 
mechanics of Gallery administration but as a historical 
specialist, that I felt like an interloping carpet-bagger. 
Milner's modest tact did much to set me at my ease, for the 
moment ; but I saw with dismay how unpleasantly hard I 
should have to work before I could hold my own with such 
an "assistant. 3 Gust and others, I found, were not blind to 
Milner's ability, but thought him immature for promotion. 

263 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1909-1911 

He had, it seemed, the further official disadvantage of having 
in youth, quite needlessly and heedlessly he told me, passed 
the Civil Service Examination for the Second Division 
and the appointment of Second Division Clerks to Director 
ships was not, in those days, regarded with favour. 

Then Lord Dillon, the Chairman of the Board, appeared, 
enchanting me at once by his magnificent figure and his 
merry Irish humour, while I quickly came to respeet his fine 
consideration, his sound judgment, and his wide antiquarian 
experience. Six George Scharf and Sir Augustus Franks had 
been his personal friends ; he knew, liked and laughed at my 
uncle Richard Holmes, and he seemed to accept me at once 
as the sort of person needed to work with Milner, whose 
merits, in his opinion, had been rather kept in the back 
ground hitherto. And as I gradually got to know the other 
Trustees, it became evident that my lot was cast in a fair 
ground. 

Lord Ronald Gower I might regard as an old acquaint 
ance; Lord Knutsford made himself a personal friend, full 
of wisdom, reminiscences and zeal for the Gallery ; Lord 
Cobham loved pictures as he loved cricket, Lord Ribblesdale 
as he loved horses, good sportsmen both in the best sense 
of the word. Sir Coutts Lindsay was now too old, Lord 
(Edmond) Fitzmaurice in too indifferent health, to attend 
meetings often. Both, like Sir Edward Poynter (contrary to 
Ms reputation), made themselves invariably pleasant, as 'did 
Sir William Anson and Lord Balcarres, the Vice-Chairman. 
Sir Herbert Raphael was a brother fisherman; Professor 
Firth an old Oxford acquaintance; and Edmund Gosse, if a 
severe censor of literary reputations, was the reverse of 
censorious to me; introducing me to sundry interesting 
persons whom I should never otherwise have met. A little 
later my friend C. F. Bell from Oxford was added to this 
genial company, rather, I fear, to the disappointment of 
Gust, who had hoped to continue as Trustee the work he had 
done as Director. 

The seven happiest years of my life were spent in working 

264 




LORD DILLON 

From a medal fov Sidnev Garllne 




J. D. MILNER. 



igog-igii] THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY 

with and for this wonderful body of men. They met my 
difficulties, stupidities and occasional blunders with un 
ruffled good-humour,, tactfully endeavouring always to help 
and encourage, and making their individual suggestions 
with a deference for the Director's point of view that relieved 
him of any discomfort in expressing his own opinion frankly. 
Not one single dispute, during all those seven years, disturbed 
the atmosphere of friendship, confidence and laughter, in 
which the business of the Gallery was conducted. Much, no 
doubt, was due to Lord Dillon's own interest in every detail 
of the Gallery administration ; still more to his tact, dignity 
and humour. Yet all his experience and influence might 
not have been enough to reconcile occasional differences of 
opinion, had not those who differed been themselves great 
gentlemen. 

The first obvious duty was to start repairing my ignorance. 
My wife, having a fancy for the subject, had recently been 
presented by her father with the Cambridge Modern His 
tory. Through the umpteen volumes of that conscientious 
over-production I now plodded my way every evening. 
Every day I worked under Milner's eye upon the admirable 
reference collections which Scharf had founded. Royal 
Portraits came first, and the traits of heredity revealed by 
them provided me with material, as already mentioned, for 
a final course of lectures at Oxford. Then came portraits of 
eminent persons, whom the Gallery had not, so far, been 
able to represent. These likenesses had to be solemnly 
memorized, so that if lighted upon by chance they could be 
registered or secured. This effort permanently affected my 
visual memory. I did manage, at last, to fix in my mind 
the look and features of a large number of deceased English 
men, but at the cost of failing to remember living persons ; 
a social disability for which the identification, occasionally, 
of some unknown portrait no longer compensates. After 
some three years, I could hold my own, even with Milner, 
so far as features were concerned : for minutiae of dress, and 
in particular for medals, orders, and other honorific dis- 

265 



SELF AND PARTNERS 

tinctions, his eye and memory were beyond challenge. 
Only on points of technical quality, and the characteristic 
methods and touch of various portrait-painters, could I 
speak before him without some little apprehension. 

Milner initiated me, too, into the mysteries of official 
correspondence : how to understand a Treasury letter, and 
how to answer it. A Treasury letter, in those days at least, 
was as much a work of art as a paragraph in Tacitus ; pro 
gressing from a stately introduction to an abstract of the 
matter in hand, so concise as to call for all the reader's wit 
and skill in precise interpretation, and ending with a tail 
which, as often as not, concealed a sting. Even a sanction 
or concession which appeared, at first sight, to be generous, 
would prove on close scrutiny to be hedged about with safe 
guards and qualifications such as only long experience in 
protecting the nation's small change could have devised, 
and only exceptional literary skill could have so compressed. 
To reply with anything like the same precision and finish was 
no easy task, but as Child had taught me how to write 
articles, so Milner now coached me in this more recondite 
craft; it was really rather like composing a neat epigram. 
After a while the Trustees would jestingly say, ' It *s a case for 
one of the Director's famous letters, 3 and leave me to hammer 
out my draft under Milner's eye. Milner's caution was a 
precious corrective to my native rashness. He would con 
tinually stop me from sending off* letters written in the heat 
of the moment : the next morning we should see the words 
with a fresh eye. The Gallery was a tiny Department, of 
little account with its official overlords. If it was to get even 
a few of the things which it urgently needed, it could not 
afford mistakes. 

These needs were many. The building in St. Martin's 
Place, a generous gift from Mr. W. H. Alexander, was 
singularly ill-adapted to its purpose. Even when first 
opened, it could barely house the portraits; as these in 
creased in number year by year, the congestion became worse 
and worse. Plans and talk of extension, at some future date, 

266 



igog-ign] THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY 

there might be ; but nothing more. The potentialities of the 
Gallery as a vivid illustration of our national history had 
always appealed to me. This power for good was obscured, 
almost annihilated, by the very look of the place. If it was 
ever to become a real educational influence it would have 
to attract the public by its general appearance, its contents, 
and its publications. What were the facts? 

The portraits, good and bad, important and unimportant, 
were crowded together in monotonous rows, according to 
size, against a shabby green wall-paper. The catalogue was 
equally crowded and uninviting. The floor was of rough 
bare boards. The gloomy entrance and cavernous stair 
ways were obstacles which we should have to accept: the 
rest could be dealt with, in time. Time was evidently 
necessary. Highly artistic people affected contempt for the 
whole institution, saying that the best portraits ought to 
be transferred to the National Gallery where they could be 
properly seen, while the remainder might be kept on screens 
or in racks as a sort of reference library. This was MacColFs 
view; possibly, though I did not think of it then, that astute 
Director had an eye for the additions which would accrue to 
his collection at Millbank. 

Heresies of this kind had to be endured in silence : the 
'Burlington' was no longer available for combating them. 
Even my kindly and sympathetic Trustees felt, like great 
gentlemen of the Old School, that any popularizing of the 
Gallery was akin to self-advertisement. People of a scholarly 
habit would continue to come there; it was for them that 
the collection was made and maintained. Rearrangement, 
redecoration, they would heartily approve, but to court 
publicity in any overt shape was clearly premature. Even 
Lord Sudeley, long after, had to submit to the reputation of 
being an amiable crank, until he slowly wore down the 
prejudice against encouraging the public to use and appreci 
ate their possessions. 

Gust had tried to improve matters in his dignified way, 
through the medium of official correspondence. A pile of 

267 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1909-1911 

letters nearly two inches thick testified to his zeal about 
floors and charwomen. ButR. S. Meiklejohn at the Treasury 
had hinted that I might consult him personally if any 
difficulty cropped up : I ventured to try the same method 
with the Office of Works. Sir Schomberg MacDonnell at 
once agreed to shelve all ancient dossiers and make a fresh 
start, so that our floors, within a month or two, were being 
polished by Ronuk, instead of being laboriously scrubbed. 
No money for redecoration would be available before the 
following April, but rehanging by the Gallery staff cost 
nothing, so experiments could begin. 

We had now the opportunity of practising what we had 
preached In the * Burlington J ; the proper exhibition of the 
best portraits, the relegation of the unimportant to ordered 
obscurity. Our first floor had a range of rooms that were 
badly lighted, so into them went the daubs, the dull divines 
(Oust rather fancied divines), and similar depressing can 
vases. Dead judges, doomed as a class to a like oblivion, 
had a limbo all to themselves on the ground floor. By this 
ruthless weeding of the collection, space could be found for 
showing all the chief portraits, in historical sequence and 
without overcrowding, in the galleries which had a good 
light. The result of the first trial surprised us by the 
number and quality of the good things which it revealed, 
and we looked forward eagerly to the time when the 
redecoration would be done, and the definite rearrange 
ment possible. 

Meanwhile a popular alternative to our informing but 
formidable catalogue was urgently needed. ELM. Station 
ery Office had not then learned to take pride in its publica 
tions ; hence the only sort of Illustrated List which I could 
contrive, and extract from the unwilling Controller, did no 
credit to the printer's craft. If we had been allowed to go 
to an outside firm, we could have produced the scrubby 
thing for twopence-halfpenny, or thereabouts ; but we had 
to take what we could get, or go without. Fortunately I 
found a practical and friendly helper in Mr. Codling, now 

268 



THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY 

Mmself Controller, and by his good offices the Illustrated 
List duly appeared in 1910. 

We were a little consoled for its insignificance by the fact 
that through an arrangement with Emery Walker, that 
tireless friend of the Arts 5 all the portraits in the Gallery had 
been photographed and prints of them made available for 
the public. Few museums or galleries, at that time, were 
so well served in this respect; and with such details of 
equipment settled, for the time being, we could turn without 
uneasiness to outside events. Callers and letters of inquiry 
were many, but Milner answered the difficult questions, 
while Bryant and Luxon, the chiefs of the attendant staff, 
were models of method, so that it was possible with their 
assistance to get through a fair amount of research work 
almost every day. 

In October I received my first official recognition as a 
painter, when the Manchester Corporation bought my 
Biasca (1908) for sixty-five guineas, a recognition made 
doubly pleasant by coming from my native county, and 
from the city where, at the Jubilee Exhibition of 1887, I 
had first learned a little about British Art. My encourage 
ment was increased through the purchase of a second 
picture, The Garden Wall (a compromise, if I remember 
rightly, between Daubigny and Wilson), by Mr. Alexander 
of Didsbury . 

Then came the news of the connexion between the famous 
Flora bust and Richard Cockle Lucas. e Nothing, 3 wrote 
a veteran English authority, e for a long while has given me 
a purer joy. It will be an end for good and all of that 
arrogant art dictatorship from which we have all suffered 
so long. Is it too late for a note about it in the Mag? 3 On 
the other hand, Bode, whose help for the c Burlington 5 in its 
early days I had happened to mention just previously in a 
speech, wrote : * I thank you the more fervently, as I had to 
suffer just now from all the ridiculous attacks roused by the 
acquisition of the Flora. None of all the English art critics 
who claimed the bust for a work of the famous Lucas ever 

269 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1909-1911 

saw the bust. 5 Personally I was sorry for Bode. Overbearing 
he undeniably was, but he had done an immense work for 
his country of which he might well be proud, and the outcry 
which his rivals now raised over this one error of judgment 
was less of a condemnation than a proof of his greatness. 
Luckily it was no longer my duty to keep the peace between 
these learned belligerents. 

I had left the c Burlington/ but it had not yet forgotten me, 
for on December i6th its patrons gave me a dinner at the 
Trocadero, which is one of the great memories of my life. 
Lord Plymouth, that firm friend to the Arts and to the 
Magazine., took the chair, and among the company I was 
specially pleased to see my uncle Richard Holmes and my 
father-in-law ; the one for having fostered my boyish interest 
in art, the other for having faith in me when the rest of my 
folk had not. It was pleasant also to be able to give credit 
where credit was due : to Fry for salving the Magazine and 
for raising the bulk of the capital ; to Herbert Cook whose 
generous contribution enabled us to start, and to many 
others who in their several ways had helped the enterprise 
through its troubles. Martin Conway, Fry, Gust, MacColl, 
Ross and Colvin being the chief speakers besides the chair 
man, the evening lacked neither variety nor wit, and I was 
touched by many evidences of genuine goodwill, which now 
make the list of those present rather melancholy reading : 
Lord Plymouth, Lord Ronald Gower, Sir Edgar Speyer, Sir 
Richard Holmes, Sir Purdon Clarke, Sir Cecil Smith, Sir 
Isidore Spielmann, Sir Walter Armstrong, Lionel Cust, 
A. F. G. Leveson-Gower, G. F. Laking, Colonel Croft- 
Lyons, Roger E. Fry, Herbert Cook, D. S. MacCoU, Whit- 
worth Wallis, A. G. Temple, Sidney Colvin, C. H. Read, 
Laurence Binyon, Campbell Dodgson, G. F. Hill, A. M. 
Hind, A. van de Put, E. F. Strange, H. Clifford Smith, 
G. A. Whitworth, W. G. Rawlinson, R. Cripps, C. R. 
Rivington, Edward Dillon, Arthur Morrison, A. J. Finberg, 
A. Glutton-Brock, Lawrence Weaver, Robert Ross, S. M. 
Peartree, T. Sturge Moore, Charles Ricketts, Philip Norman, 

270 



igog-ign] THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY 

Emery Walker, Max Rosenheim, A. Clifton, Frank Rinder, 
Marion Spielmann, Charles Shannon, G. Mayer, H. Velten, 
C. Llewelyn Davies, Frank Gibson, L. Gordon Stables, 
Harold Child, Bowyer Nichols, Sir Martin Conway. 

Just before Christmas the Gallery received a notable gift 
from Ellen Terry ; her portrait of Henry Irving by Bastien- 
Lepage. She asked to be allowed to retain the fragment of 
a letter pasted upon the back. It read: Tm expecting 
Bastien-Lepage every moment. Pd cut up the nasty thing, 
but think you like it. 3 The modernist, no doubt, would 
dismiss the picture as a mere photographic snapshot. To 
me it seems almost a model of its kind. Drawn most ably, 
yet so lightly as to retain the sparkle of life, the small scale 
gives it an intimacy which larger portraits seldom retain. 
The artistic side of the Gallery, which I felt had been under 
valued, was further reinforced three months later by Kneller's 
remarkable study of the Duke of Monmouth, as he lay after 
his execution. This masterly painting had been bequeathed 
to the Gallery by Sir Francis Seymour Haden, but he was 
now very old and in ill-health, so the Trustees agreed to 
purchase it. 

We spent Christmas at Ramsden with T. W. Bacon and 
his wife s who endured the infliction of our whole family party. 
Essex in the fogs and frost of winter is not always or every 
where fascinating, but our host was a first-rate judge of 
pictures one of the best, I think, in England and his 
collection contained enough beauties, and enough critical 
puzzles, to keep us occupied when not called off by season 
able festivities, or the outdoor exercise they necessitate. 
Since the Ramsden Collection included two pictures of mine, 
Mountains of the Abruzzi and The Rain ofAshes^ it was a relief 
to find that they held their own pretty well in that select 
assemblage. Yet I made, I fear a a scurvy return to my host 
for all this hospitality. Among the portraits was a sinister 
gentleman in a cuirass, by Robert Walker. The sitter's 
identity was then unknown, but research indicated that 
lie was almost certainly the famous John Hampden; 

271 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1909-1911 

Mr. Bacon in consequence felt bound to present him to 
the Gallery. 

The year 1910 opened with a great disappointment. Mr. 
George Salting had bought Holbein's famous miniature of 
Anne of Cleves, intending it for the National Portrait 
Gallery, and had written the cheque for it at our Board 
Room table in Gust's presence. But when the terms of 
Salting's will came to be interpreted, this miniature was 
allotted, as part of his c works of art,' to the Victoria and 
Albert Museum. Pierpont Morgan, too, had wanted this 
superb portrait. He told me how cross he was when it was 
brought to Salting's notice by my uncle Richard Holmes, 
and Gust had clinched the transaction. 

As I looked through Salting's pictures with Holroyd and 
Berenson at Trafalgar Square, I could not help contrasting 
this superb bequest with Salting's habit of life. Some years 
before, I had come one winter morning, by appointment, 
to his rooms above the Thatched House Club. Salting had 
not yet got up, but he insisted on my climbing, boots and 
all, on to the very bed in which he was lying, so that I 
might look closely at a Constable which hung above it, near 
Crome's marvellous Moonrise on the Tare. Finally he rose, 
a strange figure with his long gray beard and crumpled 
nightgown, to show me some particular treasure. I feared 
the old gentleman would catch cold, so insisted upon retiring 
to the sitting-room till he had splashed in his saucer-balh, 
and got some clothes on. When he had done the honours 
of the things visible, he proceeded to reveal things hidden. 
Plunging into a drawer full of collars and handkerchiefs he 
pulled out a paper parcel. It contained a magnificent neck 
lace which he hastily popped back, to rummage again until 
he found underneath the ivory which he wanted. He was 
always glad to get the opinion of others upon his purchases 
and, if he found it unfavourable, would dispose of the 
criticized treasure in part payment for some new purchase. 
The dealers against whom he pitted his wits sometimes took 
advantage of this peculiarity; first sending an emissary to 

272 



igog-ign] THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY 

depreciate the object which they wanted, and then, when 

they judged him to be sufficiently alarmed, calling and con 
senting to take it off his hands as part of a fresh transaction. 
Though a bottle of champagne was reputed to be an aid 

to business with him, if another paid for it, he was generally 
so indifferent to the luxuries, even the amenities of life, that 
his hospitality in any other man would have been accounted 
for meanness. Herbert Horne was asked to tea one day 
at 4.30. At 4.20 he had just got into Piccadilly when he 
ran right into Salting, coining out of the A.B.C. shop near 
the corner with a paper bag in his hand. They walked 
together to Salting's rooms. Salting sent down to the Club 
for two cups of tea, and when these came he opened the 
bag, producing two penny buns. My uncle Richard Holmes 
had a similar experience. He was invited to lunch and came 
up from Windsor for that purpose. Salting displayed his 
latest purchases until the table in his sitting-room was heaped 
with them. An hour or more was spent in this way, and 
still nothing was said about the expected meal. My uncle, 
a bit of a gourmet, grew fainter and fainter. At last he could 
bear it no longer, and said he really must be off to lunch. 
Oh ! I forgot, 3 replied Salting and, clearing a space with a 
sweep of his arm among the outspread treasures, he pulled 
open the table drawer to produce two plates of cold beef. 

The time had now come (February 1910) for resigning 
the Slade Professorship. My letter to the Vice-Chancellor 
drew from him a reply so warm and so grateful for help in 
the Ashmolean resettlement as to give me no little pleasure, 
even after making allowance for the customary compliments 
in such epistles. The 'Oxford Magazine 5 was still more 
flattering, but I wondered whether there was not a touch of 
irony in its opening sentence : The faithful audience which 
regularly filled the lecture-room of the Slade Professor heard 
with great regret the voice of the retiring occupant die away 
at the close of his last lecture on Wednesday.' Die away ! 
It was the occasion on which, as I have related elsewhere, I 
nearly fell fast asleep on the platform. 

273 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1909-1911 

The combat for the succession promised to be keen, and 
personally embarrassing too, since it involved two particular 
friends. Ricketts had long loved Oxford, its buildings and 
its collections. These he knew by heart; and we spent 
several days together there 3 walking about the place, and 
over my favourite Hinksey-Cumnor country. He was the 
first to hear of my impending retirement, and to get details 
of what was expected from a Professor. He even took lessons 
in elocution to fit himself for lecturing. 

Then, at the end of January, Fry received his conge from 
America, a vile deed villainously done with every kind of 
hypocritical slaver. . . . Now, my dear Holmes, I must 
either get the Slade, or get sold up sooner or later on the 
whole I prefer the former, and am going to draw up my 
application and submit it to you. . . . Fll come and talk 
things over with you soon and seek the consolation of yr. 
wisdom. You see the effect of my speaking on Liberal 
platforms here (Guildford), a Tory majority of 4000 odd. 5 
Here was a pretty kettle of fish ! Ricketts, regarding Fry 
as a kind of artistic Jesuit (to put it very mildly), would 
think me a traitor; but I felt bound to help both equally, 
so far as I could, and to avoid expressing a preference for 
either. 

The situation was unexpectedly relieved by the needs of 
Selwyn Image, in whose favour Fry and Ricketts, like 
brother Philip Sidneys, both stood down. For the sake of 
Oxford I wished they had been less magnanimous. The 
ground was ready to receive fresh seed of a kind which the 
older man, with all his gentle good taste, could never sow. 
Fry might have found there not only an addition to his 
income, but the sympathetic environment which his temper 
and energies needed: Ricketts, generous, versatile, pictur 
esque and perhaps the safer guide for youth, was so soon 
to develop his interest in the theatre that his sacrifice meant 
less to himself than to the University. Under either, the 
Golden Age of Ruskin might seem to have returned. 

Colvin was another who regretted, for more personal 

274 



igog-ign] THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY 

reasons, the way the Slade election had gone. He was look 
ing forward, on his retirement from the Print-Room at the 
end of the year, to at least a moiety of the 'Burlington 5 

editorship, and correspondence had passed which encour 
aged this hope. But now Fry had to squeeze into a place 
by the side of Oust in the editorial chair, and that left no 
possible room for a third occupant. 

I was much engaged about this time with a new friend. 
My 'Science of Picture-Making,* having reached a second 
edition within a few months, brought me into frequent 
communication with its publishers, Chatto and Windus, and 
in particular with Philip Lee-Warner, the junior member of 
the firm. Tall, frail, nervous, impetuous, his energy seemed 
as inexhaustible as his audacity was terrifying to men of more 
cautious habits. Being now bent upon enlarging Ms firm's 
connexion with the fine arts, through books and colour-prints, 
his enthusiasm, coupled with Ms merry eye, enlisted me as 
an adviser for that purpose. MUner and I had been much 
inconvenienced by the absence of any reliable literature upon 
English sixteenth- and seventeenth-century painting. There 
was room for several new books upon this uncharted area, 
so, at Milner's suggestion, the Stuart period was chosen, and 
Collins Baker introduced as the man for the job. Baker 
fully justified out choice. Digging among arcMves, search 
ing private collections, and marshalling Ms discoveries with 
singular critical acumen, he made at once a reputation for 
himself and a book wMch, in its own field, is unique. 
Twenty-five years of research have failed to sensibly enlarge 
or modify Ms account of 'Lely and the Stuart Portrait- 
Painters. 3 

The absolute authenticity of our National Portraits being 
of prime importance, any question raised about them was 
welcome, especially since investigation might produce 
curious results. One of General Gordon's relatives chal 
lenged a little portrait of him, said to have been painted at 
Cairo in January 1884, ^Y a certain Leo Diet (who was he?), 
just before Ms journey to Khartoum. The challenge pro- 

275 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1909-1911 

duced a series of visits from those who had known Gordon, 
and from some who had been with him at Cairo: Col. 
Marsh, General Sir J. Sevan Edwards, Sir T. Francis, Sir 
Evelyn Wood, General Owen Jones, Colonel Bollard and 
Lord Cromer. Incidentally, the antiquity of the Lytton 
Strachey legend (or perhaps its innocent origin) was shown 
by one casual comment, 'That's not Gordon's eye. Gordon 
had a brandy-bottle eye.' The General's movements during 
every hour, from the time that he landed in Egypt to the 
time he went up to Khartoum, could be checked by those 
who had charge of him, and the result left no interval in 
which the alleged portrait could have been sketched. It 
must have been e faked' from a photograph, and as a fake 
it was removed from the walls. 

The portrait of Florence Nightingale in youth, by Augustus 
Egg, was the next to face the firing-party of family criticism. 
Here there was no question of fraud : the picture came to us 
direct from the Rathbones, old friends of Miss Nightingale. 
But could not those friends have been mistaken? Certainly 
the gentle girl in the portrait did not look like one who 
would afterwards develop into the imperious c Lady of the 
Lamp.' Finally Miss Nightingale's niece, Mrs. Stephen, 
came with her husband to see if she could decide the ques 
tion. Her first impression seemed to be unfavourable, but 
as she bent over the little painting I was suddenly struck by 
her wonderful likeness to it. When her husband's attention 
was drawn io the fact he exclaimed, 'Why, Barbara! It's 
the very image of you, 3 and the more we looked from the 
lady to the portrait the more unmistakable became the 
family connexion between them. 

On another occasion a lady called to inform us that the 
accepted date for her grandfather's death was incorrect. He 
had undoubtedly, as she explained with very natural hesita 
tion, circulated a report of his death at Macao in 1852, in 
order to escape from his wife and family, but had merely 
moved on from Macao to Pekin. There for many years he 
enjoyed the friendship of the Emperor, until he was detected, 

276 



1909-1911] THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY 

at the age of 101, in an Intrigue with a lady of the Imperial 
household, and was permitted to take poison. 

When I first came to the Gallery, I noticed in a dark 
corridor a portrait of Raikes the philanthropist, much in 
need of cleaning, but an original by Romney. I was 
corrected ; it was only a copy of a Romney by Sir William 
Beechey, for which the Gallery had nevertheless been com 
pelled to pay a stiff price. The original still belonged to the 
family. This seemed incredible. Every touch in the paint 
ing was Romney's own, and I could not believe Beechey 
capable of making any such minute facsimile. Later, the 
supposed original was sent to Christie's. One glance was 
enough to show us that a mistake had been made. The 
people who had driven so hard a bargain with Gust had 
sold him the Romney believing it to be a copy, and had 
retained the Beechey version for themselves. 

Another and a much less admirable picture served at 
least to prove how fine was the Board's consideration for its 
officers. Among the portraits we put up for consideration 
before the assembled Trustees was one which happened to 
catch Lord Cobham's eye. He looked hard at it, scribbled 
a note, and had it passed up to me. It ran : Are you quite 

sure about L ? We have the same picture at Hagley as 

Lord B , who bequeathed it to us himself. 3 The Board, 

when I explained the dubious identity, was equally con 
siderate. Not a hint of reproach for imperfect examination : 
we might just make sure and report at the next Meeting. 
How few, In like circumstances, could have refrained from 
displaying their knowledge! With such masters it was 
Impossible not to be happy and to do one's utmost. 

The funeral of King Edward VII provided one memorable 
moment. My wife and I were allowed to stand on the Horse 
Guards Parade. As the procession moved slowly past us into 
the Mall, we were suddenly aware of three superb horsemen 
In scarlet emerging from the archway and moving abreast : 
Sir Evelyn Wood, Lord Roberts and Lord Kitchener, all 
stern and erect, with the sunlight glittering on their panoply. 

277 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1909-1911 

As a rule one looks down upon a state procession from a 
balcony or a window, whence even a Field-Marshal becomes 
a mere speck in a pageant. Here the riders on their great 
horses passed close by, towering above us. It was, I think 
the most vivid and impressive spectacle I ever witnessed. 

Our holidays in 1910 were spent with our children at 
Esplandj for the most part uneventfully. Brackenber Moor 
with the fells behind still provided fresh material for sketch 
ing: a two-mile walk led to the Eden at Sandford and 
tolerable trout-fishing. Mrs. Herringham came to stay with 
us for a few days 3 and had some trouble in getting away. 
Fanny, the mare, our only steed, obstinately refused to be 
haltered (I'm an arrant funk and duffer at such things) , 
and we all tried to catch her in vain. At last there was 
nothing for it but to pick up Mrs. Herringham's luggage, 
and to start with her to trudge to the station, nearly four 
miles away, my wife meanwhile persevering with the 
recalcitrant mare. We had got down off the moor, and 
staggered along a mile or more of the road, when a clatter 
was heard behind, and down the hill trotted Fanny in the 
trap, with my wife, so high was the driving-seat, looking like 
a veritable Jehu. Mrs. Herringham duly caught her train ; 
but it was a bad business that one whom we regarded with 
particular affection and gratitude should have been picked 
by Fate to suffer such discomfort. 

An excursion to visit our friends Dr. and Mrs. Carter, who 
had taken the vicarage at Barnard Castle, led me to the 
brink of real disaster. Carter, who was salmon-fishing, told 
me to bring a rod/ I had only cheap, light trout-rods at 
Espland (Hardy's 6 Boys' rods 3 are bad to beat for common 
use), so took over one of these, with flies and a Devon 
minnow. Rising from a second breakfast, welcome after a 
start in the small hours, we found the Tees running down 
nicely after a flood. I found, too, that we were on Lord 
Barnard's water, for which Carter had only a personal 
permit, and remembered that I had no licence even to fish 
the river. Carter pooh-poohed my qualms. He had fished 

278 



THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY 

for a month, and nobody had asked for any papers. Lunch 
at one by a certain bridge was the all-important thing. 

I was to fish down-stream, so down and down I went., 
finding the river everywhere too deep and full for profitable 
work. It was nearly a quarter to one before two promising 
pools appeared. In the first I touched a fish; and then, 
though time was up, could not resist a careful cast over the 
tail of the second. In a moment I was fast in a good sea- 
trout ; the tackle was light, but duty to my hostess compelled 
drastic measures. The fish fought gamely enough, fouled me 
in a wire fence sunk in the river, and generally did his best : 
but was dragged somehow into the net, a fine three-pounder. 
Still I was already late, so with rod in one hand, net and fish 
in the other, I turned and ran as hard as I could up-stream, 
till I joined the luncheon party at the bridge, laid down my 
rod, with the minnow still attached, by the side of Carter's 
big salmon-rod, and was receiving the congratulations of 
the company when the unexpected happened. 

Up the path by which I had come three minutes before a 
man approached. After glancing at the rods and the fish he 
asked politely for our permits. While Carter, blushing, pro 
duced Ms documents, I whipped out a sketch-book and bent 
to make a hasty study of the bridge, having ears but no eyes 
for what went on behind me. But my innocent hostess con 
tinued to say how much she admired my fish. I prayed that 
the keeper might not hear. To be convicted of taking sea- 
trout without any licence, on a private water for which I had 
no leave, and, as I subsequently found, with a lure which 
was forbidden in that particular month, was such a case of 
treble-dyed poaching that even my place as a Civil Servant 
might hardly have borne the strain of exposure. The awful 
moment passed, however, without the question being asked 
as to which rod had taken the fish. Yet I should certainly 
have been caught ftagrante delicto had not consideration for 
my hostess led me to hurry that unlucky sea-trout, and take 
to my heels, just before the keeper reached that point on 
Ms beat. 

2?9 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1909-1911 

On our return to London the first rumbling of the Post- 
Impressionist storm was heard. Fry wrote (October 3rd 
1910) : Tm afraid you've got to come on a Committee for 
the Cezanne, Van Gogh, Gauguin show at the Grafton 
Galleries. It's purely formal, just to give a blessing not to 
the pictures themselves, but to the idea that people may be 
allowed to look at them. So please be good and do as 
you're told. 5 Having served for some time on the Committee 
of the newly founded Contemporary Art Society, and being 
much interested by the few examples of Gauguin and others 
that I had seen, I was willing enough to help. But the 
violence of the controversy roused by the show, the criticism 
of officials, like Claude Phillips and myself, for backing what 
was deemed aesthetic Bolshevism^ and the earnest wish of 
my friend Lee- Warner 'that I w r ould write something for him, 
drove me to put together, very hastily, my first thoughts 
about the Movement. 

c Notes on the Post-Impressionist Painters, 3 an attempt, in 
my usual rather cautious way, to survey the exhibition 
without bias, seemed to please nobody. Opinions at the 
time were too sharply divided for reconciliation. Ricketts 
w r as stirred by my liking for Van Gogh, and wrote at length, 
and trenchantly: 'This twisted touch is a common fact in 
the drawing of lunatics, a doctor will tell you so. . . . Why talk 
of the sincerity of all this rubbish? the lunatic is sincere who 
thinks he is Christ or Mr. Asquith. . . . Why this monopoly 
of sincerity for men who, like Fry and "tutti qiianti," are 
doing all they can to advertise their sincerity., etc., etc. . . . 
P.S. I am thinking of starting a national subscription to get 
Plymouth and Curzon painted by Matisse and Picasso. 3 

This view, that the Post-Impressionists were insane, found 
many adherents. Dr. Hyslop, a prominent alienist of the 
moment, delivered an illustrated lecture on the subject 
before the Art Workers 5 Guild. His arguments and evidence, 
however, were based upon such a complete misapprehension 
of the aims of painting, in all but its most commonplace and 
trivial aspects, that I was wholly unconvinced, and indig- 

280 



1909-1911] THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY 

nant that this elementary, catch-penny stuff should be put 
forward as the verdict of Science. Yet his conclusions were 
accepted with such respect, and such enthusiastic applause, 
as left no doubt as to the sympathies of the artists and crafts 
men there present. These were voiced by Selwyn Image in 
an appreciative little speech. Unwilling to oppose my suc 
cessor at Oxford, I suggested, when called upon, that Fred 
Brown, as the other living Slade Professor, should speak in 
my place. To my delight he proved to be as little satisfied 
with the lecturer's evidence as I had been, and said so with 
Ms accustomed candour and pluck. His last words, coming 
as they did from one with his magnificent record, must have 
made his audience thoughtful: 'All I can say is, that if 
Van Gogh as an artist was mad, I wish I had a little of his 
madness.* 

To Fry, however, my sympathy seemed too lukewarm, too 
pedantically qualified. I had hoped to rectify some hasty 
conclusions, about Cezanne and others, by an article in the 
4 Burlington. 3 It was rejected. Fry's letter states his point 
of view so admirably that I may be forgiven for quoting it. 
Fm awfully sorry that we cannot very well put your article 
on the Post-Impressionists into the January number of the 
Magazine, since we are already committed to one by Brock. 
He should, of course, have written in the "Times, 35 but has 
been forestalled by s; another. 55 It is quite right we should 
differ about the value of Vlaminck, Matisse, etc. ; the great 
point is we unite in admiring the others. I shall be very 
much interested to read your criticism, but do let me warn 
you not to have a consistent theory about art it is very 
dangerous. It should be made up from time to time to suit 
the circumstances. 3 

Reviewing my 'Notes 3 he found me c too much of the 
schoolmaster,' and congratulated me ironically on the courage 
shown by my c patronizing estimate of Cezanne, in view of 
the almost complete unanimity among foreign critics in 
giving him a much more exalted position. 5 I fear I am still 
unrepentant. Cezanne's aims may have been all that his 

281 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1909-1911 

worshippers believe: his achievements still appear to me 
unequal, including a number of admirable, original and 
powerful paintings, but also much that is slight, clumsy or 
misdirected. It would be much easier to accept his canon 
ization if the failures were admitted, and not treated as 
masterpieces. This inability to distinguish between a man's 
failures and his triumphs is not the least of the confusions 
which the new aesthetic philosophy has brought with it. 
Practical painters, and critics of the Older School, knew 
that even a Rembrandt or a Titian might have an off-day. 
Modern theory, making the man the sole measure, draws 
no such distinction between products good and products 
less good; an omission which the French dealers, very 
naturally, do not correct. 

For me, Fry's rapid improvisations of perception and 
theory came too near to opportunism ; brilliant, suggestive 
and stimulating, no doubt, but compelled, by the need for 
momentary predominance, to obscure or denounce all other 
beacon lights, even those which time had shown to be trust 
worthy, and which, just before, had been most carefully 
tended. My cautious, prosaic mind could only approach 
new phenomena by attempting to connect them logically 
with the great parent stem of artistic Hfe. This habit has 
led me continually, I fear, to underestimate the services done 
to mankind by the vehement advocates, who force the case 
of each client of the moment to be heard, although the 
ultimate summing-up may shear away the best part of their 
arguments. In thinking Fry too prone to disproportionate 
enthusiasms, I forgot that I owed the main interest of my 
own life to Ruskin. 

At the moment, however., my attention was distracted by 
a second 'one man show' at Carfax. This was well 
noticed, and almost everything was sold to buyers whose 
names could not fail to please a comparative novice. In 
addition to friends, acquaintances and keen judges like Eric 
Maclagan, T. W. Bacon, Walter Taylor, Herbert Trench, 
Frank Stoop and Lord Henry Bentinck 3 two collectors on a 

282 



1909-1911] THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY 

larger scale appeared. One of them, Geoffrey Blackwell, I 
had met some weeks earlier, through an odd sequence of 
events. In April 1909 I had been asked to write an article 
for the 'Times' upon Steer's exhibition at the Goupil 
Gallery. My friend Glutton-Brock was not then securely 
established as its art critic, and thought the occasion called 
for an outside specialist. The article happened to catch 
BlackwelTs eye ; interested him enough to lead him to start 
collecting Steer, and subsequently to try to track down the 
anonymous writer to whom he owed this new pleasure in 
life. At the end of eighteen months he had got as far as 
Brock, and from Brock he got to me, proving his gratitude 
by an excellent lunch and the purchase of several drawings 
from Carfax. 

Professor Michael Sadler, with his charming wife and 
brilliant son, collected on larger lines, and for many years 
have played so considerable a part in my life as to make 
this moment of first acquaintance a memorable event. Being 
North-country people, the Sadlers were full of the spirit of 
the hills, and this they found in the subjects from Yorkshire 
and the Lake District which composed the bulk of rny little 
show. I felt rather a fraud over two of their favourite 
paintings. One, The Beck from Goatswater, was done entirely 
from memory of the drenching I got there with my brother 
in the summer of 1883, before I had even thought of sketch 
ing. The other, Summer on the Fells, had an origin still more 
unsubstantial. My son Robin, as a baby, was scrawling on 
a piece of paper. The casual pencil outline suggested a 
design: all that remained was to give it solidity. The 
generous but always critical interest which the Sadlers took 
in my work continued when the Professor had accepted the 
Vice-Chancellorship of Leeds University. In consequence 
they own, or have presented to public institutions, quite a 
considerable part of my output. 

Though I was naturally encouraged by their good opinion, 
I might still have regarded it as a friendly and personal 
enthusiasm were it not for another incident, I was surprised 

283 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1909-1911 

one day at the Portrait Gallery by a visit from Tonks. He 
did not beat about the bush, but told me that it was my 
plain duty to give up my official work and take to painting 
as a profession. Strang, fifteen years earlier, had said much 
the same. Now I could only return much the same 
answer : that I was conscious only of a very limited vein 
of creation ; that it would be exhausted at once if I tried 
to work it seven days in the week. 'Very well/ Tonks 
replied, * I've said what I felt bound to say, and I won't say 
it again.' So he departed, leaving me rather shaken, for 
his authority could not be lightly set aside. 

He had long been famous as one of the great forces at the 
Slade School, where, with Professor Brown and Steer, he 
had taught a generation to draw, to paint and to support 
the New English Art Club. The Club at this time was 
almost at the height of its fame. The Suffolk Street Galleries 
gave ample space for the water-colours and drawings of 
Steer, Tonks, Max Beerbohm, Muirhead Bone and other 
masters of the craft, and also showed to advantage the 
paintings which, season after season, were provided by John, 
Orpen, Sargent, Sickert, Rothenstein, Russell, MacEvoy, 
Pissarro and others, including, of course, the trio from the 
Slade School. If the Slade element did preponderate upon 
the Selecting Jury, I never found it unfair. Once, indeed, it 
rejected, quite rightly, a drawing of mine while I was 
actually serving upon it. Another time, a portrait by 
Sargent, an undistinguished performance, only just escaped 
rejection by the Secretary's casting-vote. 

The predominance of the Slade School may have given its 
promising students a slightly better chance of consideration 
than unknown outsiders, but the few complaints came from 
older artists who expected more prominence than accident 
or the Hanging Committee had given them. The long 
experience of the senior members, aided by Francis Bate's 
shrewd judgment, led to the arrangement of the pictures 
being as effective as their selection had been careful, so that 
the Club came to enjoy an unwonted popularity with the 

284 



1909-1911] THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY 

public and the Press. I learned much from serving on the 
Committee, and was constantly stimulated by the desire to 
make a respectable show among men so much better trained, 
and more highly gifted. It was an honour to be accepted 
by them at all, and if I could have fairly earned a prominent 
place I was sure that it would not be denied. Only once, in 
the winter cf 1911, did I seem to come" near to such promi 
nence with a painting of Saddleback from the S.W., an experi 
ment inspired by the example of Korin, The picture 
shocked Claude Phillips and others by Its violence, but really 
interested Ricketts, and so pleased my friend Cripps that, 
when it remained unsold, I made him a present of it. 

Looking back over the events of 1911 I wonder that there 
should have been any time left for painting. The official 
routine was complicated by the redecoration of the building 
section by section, and by an entire rearrangement of the 
portraits, while outside matters combined to keep me busy. 
My uncle Richard Holmes, now bedridden, needed atten 
tion, and the troublesome executorship which followed his 
death in March needed still more. His rather lonely end, 
in a cramped South London flat, made a sad contrast to the 
spacious days when, as a boy, I had visited him in the 
Library at Windsor, surrounded by the great ones of the 
earth and every comfort imaginable. I had not realized till 
then that these amenities of life last only so long as a man 
can play his part in public. 

Committee meetings National Art-Collections Fund, 
Contemporary Art Society, New English Art Club ; Walpole 
Society, Alfred Stevens Memorial and the like made no 
such constant claim as did my friend Lee-Warner. His 
projects for new c Medici 9 prints; for new books, including 
a series of works on Angling edited by H. T. Sheringham 
and Eric Parker ; a new translation of Vasari which had to 
be c read' and illustrated; Collins Baker's innumerable 
needs for his volumes on Lely; negotiations, not always 
friendly and rarely simple, with other persons or firms ; all 
these involved endless meetings, talks and letters. 

285 



SELF AND PARTNERS ['1909-1911 

Then my own book, 'Notes on the Art of Rembrandt,' had 
to be finished and seen through the Press. In its predecessor, 
'Notes on the Science of Picture-Making/ I had tried to 
work out the elements of studio practice. Now I wished to 
study the lines on which an artist might develop his personal 
gifts to the best advantage, taking the life and work of 
Rembrandt as the subject for demonstration. The Oxford 
lectures on which the idea was founded had been popular ; 
I gave some care to its presentation in book form ; the book 
was favourably reviewed and fell between several stools. 
Its advocacy of self-training could not recommend it to 
professional art teachers ; the style was not enough to make 
it live as literature; the critical matter was almost immedi 
ately absorbed, superseded and buried by the issue of my 
friend A. M. Hind's exhaustive catalogue. A good many 
years passed before the first edition went ' Out of Print/ and 
the rate of sale did not warrant any reissue. 

Officialdom brought with it a new range of social experi 
ences. At one Academy Banquet, Mr. Asquith treated the 
company to a speech of such masterful irony that I was 
compelled to admiration, in spite of my Conservative dislike 
for the 'sinister activities' of his Government. Mr. Lloyd 
George's Limehouse demagogy, Mr. Winston Churchill's 

election cry of c Chinese Slavery ' (We won't have any b y 

Chinese coming here to take the bread out of our mouths,' 
I heard one workman remark on polling-day), seemed venial 
offences compared with the doings of Mr. Birrell, his slander 
ing of our troops in the critical days of the Boer War ( 'heca 
tombs of slaughtered babes ' and the like), and fatal, flippant 
evasion of his plain duties in Ireland. Almost alone, John 
Morley seemed free from open defects, and even he, when 
I heard him speak, proved rather more complacent than his 
repute, and not quite so genuine. At a Downing Street 
Garden Party, however where Anthony Asquith, a little 
boy with a big mane of blond hair, was more conspicuous 
than most of the distinguished company Mr. Lloyd George, 
seen clearly in the flesh, left a pleasant impression. I had 

286 



1909-1911] THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY 

to watch him on HolroycTs behalf, to wait until he had set 
down his coffee-cup and was turning from the table, so that 
Holroyd might catch him unoccupied and ask for help 
towards the ptirchase of the big Mabuse Adoration from 
Castle Howard. He got it. 

With the Rembrandt Mill, belonging to Lord Lansdowne, 
Holroyd had been less fortunate. We had been anxious 
about the picture for some years before it actually came into 
the market. A London collector had bought a historic 
portrait from Lord Lansdowne for -10,000. c Oifer him 
the same for The Mill? counselled the collector's adviser. 
He did so. The reply was a refusal, but a refusal qualified 
by the words, 'Had the offer been 20,000 I might have 
considered it.' 'Take him at his word at once, 3 was now 
the counsellor's advice. But the collector, always keen for 
a bargain, offered 15,000, and this time there was no reply. 
At 20,000, The Mill, one of the irreplaceable masterpieces 
in the country, was clearly at any foreigner's mercy. When 
Lord Lansdowne was offered 100,000 for it, its loss was a 
foregone conclusion. He was willing to allow the Nation a 
rebate of 10 per cent, on that price, and the picture was 
placed on exhibition at Trafalgar Square. But the miracle 
of the c Norfolk ' Holbein was not repeated, and The Mill 
was carried off to Philadelphia. 

One consolation remained. When I first saw The Mill., 
the patination of time had invested it with mystery and 
magnificence. But when shown at Trafalgar Square it had 
been recently cleaned, and so drastically that all its glamour 
was gone. It was hard, bright, almost common. Nor, when 
I saw it in America nearly twenty years later, had it com 
pletely recovered. Cleaning has done much to reveal the 
magic and smouldering colour in many of Rembrandt's 
later works : indeed, until they were cleaned with modern 
thoroughness, their beauties were unknown and unsuspected. 
But The Mill was too delicate for any such strong remedies. 

One great experience came at the end of 191 1 : Edmund 
Gosse, as kind in person as he was caustic in debate, asked 

287 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1909-1911 

me to dinner to meet the Prime Minister, Mr. Asquith's 
character at the time was hardly more respected by Tory 
gossip than were his measures. Those who had worked 
under him were no l.ess unanimous in their liking. I was 
naturally curious to judge for myself, and since neither 
Henry James, Professor Fitzmaurice Kelly, nor Walter 
Sickert (present, he informed me, as the son-in-law of 
Richard Cobden) were in need of particular attention, I 
was able to listen undisturbed to the great man opposite and 
his table-talk. Presently Gosse remarked, c Oh! I had a 
curious experience the other day. Lord Curzon confessed 
to me that his secret ambition had always been the life of a 
plain country gentleman. If he could only get out of 
politics, he would settle down on his estates and take no 
more part in public life.' 'When did he tell you this? ' asked 
the Prime Minister. 'Last Thursday/ was the reply. 
'Ah! The day after Bonar Law was elected Leader of the 
Conservative Party.' 

When Mr. Asquith had been comfortably settled in an 
arm-chair by the fire, each of us was taken up in turn to 
have ten minutes' talk with him. While encountering rather 
heavy weather between Henry James and Professor Kelly 
(Henry James was definitely lethargic), I was startled by 
hearing the voice of Sickert saying clearly and cheerfully to 
the Prime Minister, C I am a master in a London County 
Council School, and I owe my job to Holmes over there. 
That reminds me, Mr. Asquith, if you ever should need a 
testimonial, take my advice, and get Holmes to write one 
for you. 5 Bless his merry impudence ! 

When my turn came I was asked about the methods of my 
Board, explained how happy I was, and how smoothly 
everything worked owing to Lord Dillon's tact and sense of 
humour. 'Yes,' said Mr. Asquith, c a sense of humour is 
useful, even with a Cabinet.' He then proceeded to ask me 
about Mr. Walter Morrison's offer to rebuild Balliol Chapel, 
in a style more congruous than Butterfield's with the rest of 
the College. Such accretions of various periods were, I felt, 

288 



igog-ign] THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY 

part of the character of all ancient foundations, and should 
not be removed just to obtain factitious uniformity. 'Yes/ 
commented Asquith, e our Chapel is a landmark of Tstory, 
as my friend John Burns said of the river Thames.' I have 
often wondered since whether this humorous outlook upon 
life did not lead him to rely too much upon adroitness in 
debate, of which he was a master ; to smile at weakness in 
his colleagues, especially the wittiest of them, a little too 
often, and much too long for his own ultimate repute. Firm 
enough in himself, he was, perhaps, too steadfast a friend to 
be the perfect ruler. 



289 



CHAPTER XVI 
THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY (ii) 

(1912-1916) 

Rearrangement of the Gallery; its importance to the Nation; 
pleasures of Langton Field; Oscar Wilde monument; Hol 
bein's Archbishop Warham; a story of Lord Curzon; exhibi 
tion at Carfax ; Reginald Farrer ; ' The Tarn and the Lake ' ; 
pictures and noble owners ; the suffragettes ; first consequences 
of the War; the V.C.F. and the R.N.V.R. ; duty at Sandring- 
ham ; lectures at Dublin ; arrest as a spy ; retirement of 
Holroyd; a letter to Lord Ribblesdale; appointment to 
Trafalgar Square. 

OUR paramount occupation from 1910 to 1912 was the re- 
hanging of the whole collection, and the redecoration of the 
building. In this latter task we found sympathetic coadjutors 
in Sir Lionel Earle and Mr. Norton of the Office of Works, 
with whose help we were able to transform the whole place. 
Under the old, dirty, green wall-paper lay deal panelling of 
tolerable quality. By staining this woodwork, by painting 
the upper part of the walls white, and by adding a cornice 
where necessary, we managed to give the galleries a far-off 
resemblance to panelled rooms in a Tudor mansion. Not 
only was the artistic effect of the earlier portraits notably 
enhanced by the semi-traditional background, but they 
seemed to derive from it a historic character and atmosphere 
unlike that of a mere modern museum. 

To maintain this character by grouping pictures in chrono 
logical sequence, and to reconcile it with decorative display, 
often seemed hopeless. A room might have to be hung five 
or six times before we could feel that we had got the least bad 
result from our materials. Also the general sequence of 
rooms and periods had to be so arranged that, when the 
much-needed extension of the building came, there would 

290 



1912-1916] THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY 

be no need to reshuffle the contents, or break with historical 
continuity. The weeding out of unimportant portraits and 
duplicates (as already mentioned) was well received by the 
public and the Press ; being the first occasion, in England, 
when minor possessions had been definitely set apart in order 
that the major things might be shown to advantage. By 
starting, with the aid of Mr. Walter Stoneman, a National 
Photographic Record, we hoped to provide for the com 
moner wants of the future. 

I have always had a fanatic belief in the potential value 
of the National Portrait Gallery, as a living adjunct and 
illustration to our national history. The more democratic 
we grow, the more perilous, at any crisis, is the absence of a 
historical sense on the part of the electorate. No feature of 
our time is more disquieting than the efforts made elsewhere, 
and occasionally in England, to distort or suppress the 
experience of the past, if it appears to conflict with the 
intrigues of a party or the interest of a politician. As an 
essential feature in our national education, the National 
Portrait Gallery, even now, is greatly undervalued. Were 
it used, as an autocrat would use it, for teaching every 
schoolboy and schoolgirl, within a workable radius, what 
English learning, courage and enterprise have achieved, our 
outlook upon the future would be far less uncertain. Judging 
by the number of American visitors twenty-five years ago 
if not also by the 'souvenirs/ the spurs from effigies and the 
tablets from frames, which they were wont to break off 
the Eastern States actually seemed to take more interest in 
English history than the English themselves. Lord Sude- 
ley's efforts and guide-lecturers have done much to improve 
things since then. Yet until our educational authorities all 
recognize that examination papers are not a complete 
preparation for civic life, we cannot expect to see this unique 
collection put to its full and proper use. 

From these solemn concerns, our holidays in 1912 and 
I 9 I 3 S ave us a welcome change. We had rented for 20, 
and roughly furnished for a similar sum, a little modern 

291 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1912-1916 

farm-house, rather like a humble vicarage, at the northern 
end of Brackenber Moor. Langton Field stocd on a knoll 
in the middle of a big pasture, across which visitors had to 
pick their way, a precarious business at nightfall, among 
the cattle and their adjuncts. Below the house lay the old 
farm where our landlord lived, by the ruinous paddock of 
the bull which, a year previously, had killed his father in 
front of our very door. Whenever we passed that way, the 
brute's gloomy, savage head still eyed us through a gap in 
the crumbling wall. 

Braced perpetually by the sharp air of the Pennines, we 
all enjoyed rude health and a singular diversity of attrac 
tions. Visitors to that remote spot were not many. Yet one 
afternoon I particularly remember, for it produced a singu 
larly handsome couple, young Michael Sadler and his 
fiancee, who descended upon us quite unexpectedly from a 
long tramp over the moors, like visible embodiments of the 
wind and sunshine. For sport of a humble kind the place 
was unrivalled. Less than three hundred yards away ran 
Hylton Beck, which could be followed., more or less, and 
fished for some two miles. On the far bank lay Brackenber 
Moor with its breezy golf-course, never crowded in those 
days and absurdly cheap. The farm itself had big fields all 
round, where rabbits sat out in the gloaming to be potted 
with a -22 rifle, and always, within a mile or so, lay the main 
ridge of the Pennines, with the great basaltic gorge of High 
Cup Nick, the peak of Murton Pike, the hump of Roman 
Fell, all changing shape and proportion as one walked. In 
the house I had a little back room of my own, with a small 
chair and table, where one could write or draw so long as 
the light lasted and no other occupation pressed. 

The normal routine would begin with a round of golf, 
and a sketch or two if the clouds and scenery inspired it. 
Then drawing or writing till tea-time, followed by a trial 
of the beck with up-stream worm or fly, according to the 
state of the water. Half-pounders then were not uncommon, 
and once I almost had my neck broken by a fish of nearly 

292 



1912-1916] THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY 

a pound, which tore down in and out of the boulders below 
me for a hundred yards, while I ran stumbling, slipping and 
splashing in his wake. Finally I got a hand to his fat side 
and heaved him out into the heather. By six o'clock it was 
too cold even for the trout, but the rabbits were beginning 
to show, and among them the day's adventures ended. 

The uncertainty of local tradesmen's deliveries in this 
remote sanctuary was its chief drawback. Having no Fanny 
to bear us over the switchback miles to Appleby, I got used 
to carrying a large market-basket thither on Saturday morn 
ing, loading it with the outstanding needs of the kitchen, and 
tramping back with it uphill. It was some consolation to 
recognize the change from the warm frowst, as it seemed in 
comparison, of the Eden Valley to the clean stimulating 
airs of Langton, three hundred feet up the hillside. To that 
air and to those diversions 'The Tarn and the Lake' owes 
any spirit it may possess. It is the single piece of writing 
that I did with real zest, feeling free, for once, from all the 
responsibilities, artistic, literary and official, which com 
monly cramped my conscience. 

Our diversions at the Gallery included the inspection of a 
little mare's nest of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century portraits, 
all of them manufactured within the last fifty years from 
prints or photographs, and the dilemma occasioned by the 
offer of Boldini's slashing portrait of Lady Colin Campbell. 
Was she famous enough for acceptance? Was not the 
picture too brilliant to be refused? Our 'Ten Years Rule 5 
and the Newcastle Art Gallery in the end provided a way 
of escape, except from the keen eye of one cynic, who sent 
us a postcard, purporting to come from a rival society beauty, 
and protesting against the business in terms too scandalous 
for quotation. 

Even official figures and accounts had their humorous 
moments. We had conceived a scheme whereby the cost 
of administering the Gallery could be reduced by 650 in 
the remaining half of the financial year ; hoping that such 
a spontaneous retrenchment would encourage our lords and 

293 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1912-1916 

masters at the Treasury to give us the little help towards the 
publications, etc., which we so badly needed. But when we 
submitted the scheme for criticism to the author of sundry 
profound works on public economy and high finance, he 
could not see that a saving of 650 in six months was 
equivalent to 1300 in a full year. A few days later, having 
at last worked out the sum, he came round to get credit for 
the discovery. 

The queerest muddle of all arose from the National 
Insurance Act of 1912. Most of its verbiage we managed to 
puzzle out for ourselves, but a point about the pay of char 
women for a half-day's work remained wholly incompre 
hensible. Reading the 'Times/ as my habit was, I lighted 
upon an answer In Parliament which gave us the Govern 
ment's interpretation of the Act. I duly passed on the glad 
news to Hawes Turner, the much worried secretary of the 
National Gallery, and to our charwomen ; paying wages and 
producing stamps in accordance with the House of Commons 
ruling. The Treasury, however, had taken a different view 
of the cryptic paragraph, as I learned some months later 
when they demanded a refund of the monies we were alleged 
to have overpaid. 

Some little time before, I had agreed to act as arbitrator 
between those responsible for erecting the memorial to Oscar 
Wilde in Paris, and Epstein, who was to carve it. The one 
stipulation I made, and always make in such cases, was that 
I should be absolutely free to use my own judgment, what 
ever strict law or apparent equity might demand. This free 
dom was needed. As happens so often, the colossal sphinx 
was nearly finished in Epstein's Chelsea studio, but the 
sculptor needed a further advance to get it completed and 
set up in Pere la Chaise. When the parties and their legal 
representatives had argued the case before me, with more 
vehemence than tact, I gave a decision which the one side 
denounced as contrary to law, the other as less than justice. 
But the monument got finished and put up, which was the 
main thing. 

294 



1912-1916] THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY 

A far more anxious and delicate problem followed. Lord 
Dillon's version of Holbein's Archbishop Warham (now be 
queathed by him to the National Portrait Gallery) developed 
large blisters in the background. At Lord Dillon's request 
I took the picture to Buttery for restoration ; only to be met 
with a refusal. c I should have to charge the old gentleman 
.100 or more, and I can't do that. You had better just fill 
up the places yourself.' Like a fool I consented, mainly 
from the wish to save my kind Chairman from a heavy 
expense. The first thing was to get the blisters laid, and 
my heart sank as I watched the professional at work. It 
was like seeing a friend operated upon for appendicitis with 
a tin-opener, and the shattered holes that remained when 
the operation had ended were quite terrifying. 

Having, at the time, only a theoretic knowledge of the 
gesso filling which restorers employ, I decided to risk using 
flake-white. Weeks passed before I could plaster the gaps 
with the wretched stuff, and get the surface tolerably level 
with the original. Even then I had to face the well-known 
obstacle to all repairs with oil-paint, the darkening of the 
oil, which makes such restorations tell after a few years as 
brown patches. I understood, however, that one pigment, 
Brown Pink, was absolutely fugitive. If it only acted up to 
its reputation, its fading might counterbalance the darken 
ing of the oil. So I spent week after week matching the 
pattern of the curtain with that fugitive yellow-brown and 
a permanent green, varnished the patches to match the 
rest, and finally returned the thing to its owner, whose 
patience (no wonder!) was wearing a little thin. When I 
next went to stay at Ditchley, I sneaked round at the first 
convenient moment to inspect the patches. To my intense 
relief I found them invisible and, as they have remained so 
for some twenty years since then, I trust they will outlast 
my lifetime. After seeing some of the great professional 
restorers at work, I realize what a risk I took, and my good 
luck in escaping from it. 

At the end of November 1912 I gave evidence before a 

295 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1912-1916 

Committee of the National Gallery Trustees as to the reten 
tion of important pictures in England, and other matters 
connected with the National Collections. Fry was the 
witness who preceded me, and it was amusing to see the 
courage with which he faced the rather overwhelming 
manner of Lord Curzon. The Committee certainly col 
lected a mass, of facts and opinions bearing on administrative 
questions, and its Report, issued in 1915 in the form of an 
official document, was sensible enough upon such simple 
matters as the Chantrey Bequest, and the best way of 
managing the Tate Gallery. But on harder and more vital 
problems the limitation of the national aims to a few 
irreplaceable masterpieces ; the means to secure these few 
masterpieces against foreign purchasers, whether by a capital 
fund or otherwise, and the all-important business of the 
Director's authority the issue was discreetly evaded; in 
the last case on the remarkable ground that the majority 
of the Committee had insufficient experience. 

Lord Carlisle, on the other "hand, with twenty-two years' 
experience, had made a courageous protest against the 
subordination of the Director to the Trustees. But he had 
recently died, and his protest, though not actually sup 
pressed in the Report, was printed inconspicuously on the 
last page of it, among the Addenda to Lord Rosebery's 
famous, or fatal-, Minute of 1894, which set up the present 
constitution in the place of that under which Eastlake, 
Boxall and Burton had achieved their triumphs. 

I rather liked the little I had seen of Lord Curzon. My 
impression was confirmed by a story I heard at dinner from 
Ralph Knott, the young architect of the County Hall, who 
had been helping with the restoration of Tattershall Castle. 
The prospect round the castle would have been pleasing 
but for one staring red cottage. c lvy is indicated, I think/ 
said Lord Curzon : so over to the cottage they walked, to 
find a large lady occupied with the family washing. Lord 
Curzon speedily gained her good graces by praising the 
situation and convenience of the cottage ; then led tactfully 

296 



1912-1916] THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY 

up to the topic of ivy, its varieties, and what he would be 
happy to provide. All was practically settled, when a photo 
graph on the wall was noticed. It showed the woman's 
husband, a soldier, who had served in India at a place 
which the wife named, and mispronounced. Lord Curzon 
could not refrain from correcting her. My husband ought 
to know,' was the reply, c he was stationed there.' c Yes,' 
said Curzon, 'but I know still better, for I was Viceroy of 
India.' c Ah! get on with you,' answered the woman, and 
taking him by the shoulder she pushed him out of the house. 
Far from being angry, he rocked with laughter, saying only, 
*I fear that ivy-planting will have to be postponed.' 

Life at this time was worth living. The confidence of our 
good Chairman, the cheerful, canny promptings of Milner, 
rendered even the dullest routine-work tolerable, so that I 
could spend every spare moment, without more than an 
occasionable grumble, in trying to humanize our official 
catalogue. Another 'one man show' at Carfax, in Feb 
ruary 1913, though it did not lead to many sales, was gener 
ously received. Drawings now seemed quite as popular as 
paintings. Lord Henry Bentinck began to form the group of 
North-country mountain landscapes in his study at Underley : 
Dr. and Mrs. Michael Sadler, recently translated to Leeds, 
acquired a similar taste for Industrial subjects. Their 
encouragement and criticism led me to persevere in a field 
of work unattractive to Londoners, and were the more sur 
prising because the Sadlers themselves were now incessantly 
occupied with developing Leeds University, and surrounded 
by the menace of Labour disputes, where their high sense of 
civic duty was constantly at issue with their pity for genuine 
distress. 

Returning from Appleby in the previous autumn, I had 
been sketching, as usual, from the carriage window, when I 
was startled by a remark from a plump little man with 
lively dark eyes, sitting just opposite. 'Excuse me: but 
you must be C. J. Holmes.' The acute observer introduced 
himself as Reginald Farrer, and started to talk. By the time 

297 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1912-1916 

we reached St. Pancras, we had discovered so many tastes 
in common that I promised to come and see him at Ingle- 
borough in the following spring, and try for certain un- 
catchable trout in his lake. So there I found myself on a 
bitter March morning, with just half-an-hour to fish before 
the car came round to take me about. Snow was drifting 
over the black waves, but something like a swirl near my 
fly gave me hope, and in a short time I was able to run down 
to the house with a brace of half-pounders in my net. 
Swathed in rugs and coats and scarves we then faced the 
elements in a little open car, driving round to Ribblehead 
by Stainforth, whence my Swainson ancestors had come, 
past a nobly snow-streaked Ingleborough, stopping wherever 
a subject for frozen fingers was suggested, and finally return 
ing to the house, the lake and to sunshine. But not a rise 
could I now entice : the water evidently intended to guard 
its reputation henceforth, and we fell back on talking and 
walking. 

The next day was glorious, and we tramped over the hills 
from Troll Gill to Sulber Nick, that miracle of desolation, 
chanting absurd verses in abuse of Sophocles, whom we both 
disliked, and behaving generally like schoolboys. Farrer, 
the professed Buddhist, loved to pass in a moment from the 
sublime to the ridiculous, to be as brilliant -and as silly as he 
was learned in letters and in botany. His spirits and his 
good temper were inexhaustible, and his consideration too. 
On our last morning he ran me down to the edge of his 
famous rock-garden and back, so that I could just say that 
I had seen it, without having to pretend to be interested. 
Indeed to me the garden looked just like the usual barren 
mixture of earth and stones, without a touch of colour, in 
which Alpine botanists discourse of glories to come; though 
the stones were larger and piled more grandly than any I had 
seen elsewhere. The one remark I made was unlucky. 
The mention of Glutton-Brock's garden in Surrey drew down 
a sudden outburst of the eternal disrespect of the man who 
does things for the man who writes about them. 

298 



1912-1916] THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY 

Farrer, indeed, for all his lightness of heart and exuber 
ance of language, was now preparing for another of his 
arduous expeditions to the highlands of China in search of 
new flowering plants. He introduced me to chopsticks, to 
tea made in 'native fashion, which exhilarates at the moment 
but leaves the mind afterwards a perfect blank, and to 
Chinese delicacies, like buried eggs, which resemble (when 
they are not mouldy) some ancient ethereal cheese. I got 
news of him next in the autumn of 1914, from the borders of 
Thibet, where he lived precariously between hillmen, who 
wanted his blood for disturbing the mountain spirits when 
he climbed, and the armies of White Wolf which were 
ravaging the plains. c Do you realize, 5 he writes, 'that be 
sides the ten thousand rotting dead who still stack the gutted 
streets of Taochow (the address for my reply), the air is 
poisoned for miles by the carrion of every other living 
creature down to cats and dogs and hens? ' And later, when 
wintering in peace at Lanchow, while we were in the throes 
of the War, he describes his work as c a breathless rush and 
scurry for the past three months, pursuing the elusive seed 
from pillar to post. Up and down, in and out, over crag 
and valley I toiled and lumbered, deciphering the glories of 
the spring in the fat pods of the present, which, as often as 
not, were empty, or unripe, or unsound, or vanished, or 
trampled, or eaten, or hail-battered, by the time I got to 
them.' Few men have impressed me more than this merry 
soul, whom I met so casually and knew so briefly, this lover 
of ease and civilized comfort, who sacrificed them, and 
ultimately his own life, to hunt in savage and dangerous 
places for the little flowers which now bear his name. 

At Allestree, near Derby, Sir Herbert Raphael introduced 
me to his fishing, a small stream converted by dams into the 
semblance of a river, and well stocked with trout. The 
Mayfly was up, but as we passed through Derby on our 
way to the water, I noticed that my host bought a dozen 
Red Palmers at the local tackle-shop. He was no fool, and 
I followed his lead by taking the three left in the box. The 

299 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1912-1916 

Mayfly was about in plenty, but I could do nothing with it. 
Finally I saw one alight on a broad clear pool just over a 
trout. The trout, seemingly puzzled by the apparition, 
merely nibbled at its legs, until the Mayfly, sensing danger, 
fluttered off for two or three feet, and the trout sank down. 
Not until we talked at lunch did light dawn upon me. The 
fish, being more than the stream could naturally support, 
received artificial food, including chopped horseflesh. That 
explained the Red Palmers. The moment I was free, I put 
on an extra large one which I happened to have. In two 
hours I had taken five brace (six brace was the limit) 
weighing 17! Ibs., and returned about as many. Never 
have I had such a day. In spite of this artificial feeding, the 
brown trout proved lively fighters, the rainbows indefatig 
able, though without the cunning of the native breed. 
Since my beat was much overgrown, this cunning had scope 
for exercise, and the triumph was not always the fisherman's. 
By the issue of 'The Tarn and the Lake,' a comparison 
between the ways of fishes and of men, my passion for fishing 
was now, momentarily, exposed. But in spite of many 
notices, as diverse as the politics of its reviewers, the little 
book fell flat; perhaps because it neither pretended to teach 
tyros to fish, nor flattered the prevalent intellectual social 
ism. Fry, for instance, wrote from his Omega Workshops 
that I seemed to be e bolstering up people in their natural 
beastliness.' Ricketts, with his usual foresight, challenged 
my Disraelian view of the Press as an antidote to the Dema 
gogue. 'The Press is as great a danger to the Public in its 
cooking of opinion and fact as the intellectual trust of the 
Jesuits in the i yth century.' How right Time has proved 
him to be! Edmund Gosse, on the other hand, found it 
'profoundly interesting as an apologue, besides being deli 
cately written . . . your experience coincides with my own.' 
I solaced my failure with these and similar kind remarks. 
Then, many years later, Max Beerbohm, chance-met by the 
National Gallery, asked in his whimsical way, why I did not 
give up my official life, and write something more like 'The 

300 



1912-1916] THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY 

Tarn and the Lake'? Finally, when Eric Parker quoted 
nearly a page of it in his 'Angler's Garland/ sublimi 
feriebam sidera vertice. 

The fine head and presence of our Chairman suggested a 
portrait medal, for which the Board subscribed. At Oxford 
I had made the acquaintance of Sydney Carline, son of a 
well-known local painter, himself a modeller of promise. 
Carline produced a good likeness, and for the reverse of his 
medal designed, in Pisanello fashion, an armadillo, that 
being Lord Dillon's telegraphic address as Keeper of the 
Tower Armouries. When the bronze casts arrived, the new 
metal looked so cheap and common that we did not dare 
to distribute them until they had been slightly toned down, 
and considerably begrimed, by exposure on the Gallery roof. 
Sydney Carline afterwards attracted notice by his pictures 
of 'planes fighting among the Italian Alps, but never, I 
think, attained quite the same distinction there as in his best 
medals. 

About the same time we received from Mrs. Henley the 
bronze bust of her husband by Rodin, one of the finest of all 
Rodin portraits, and heard the first mutterings of the 
suffragette tempest. These, while indicating flustered nerves 
in some quarters, appeared much too vague for immediate 
or overt panic. We merely replaced by less valuable substi 
tutes a few of our smaller treasures, which a single fanatic 
blow might have damaged irreparably. 

The death of Lord Knutsford was felt by us as real per 
sonal loss. In spite of his great age, he had tripped about 
the Gallery, almost to the last, with the lively step of a young 
man, taking the keenest interest in its growth, eager to help 
in his modest way towards any fresh purchase, and giving us 
always the consideration and the courtesy of a real friend. 
Gentle wit and wisdom illuminated his retrospect upon a 
long and active life. In boyhood, on a walking tour with 
his brother, he had been to visit the famous Jeffrey. But 
the house and its grounds looked so imposing, that from 
shyness the young visitors hid the carpet bag, which was all 

301 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1912-1916 

their luggage, in the bushes by the drive, and got away 
without staying there. Six months earlier, the death of my 
cousin Francis Rivington reminded me how much I owed . 
to him. By inviting me from Oxford to enter his business, 
he had saved me, at the cost of some years of discomfort, 
from the prospect of lifelong servitude as a third rate school 
master ; to the example of his strong intelligence and per 
sonality I owed such fragments of common sense and 
method as I could now claim. Finally, in December, Francis 
Bate retired from the Secretaryship of the New English Art 
Club. The dinner, and presentation to him of a drawing 
by every member, were tokens of gratitude and admiration 
more genuine than such things are apt to be, for with extra 
ordinary tact and judgment he had brought the Club 
through countless difficulties, until now it had reached 
(though we did not know it) the climax of its fortune. 
After the War nothing was quite the same. , 

The end of the year 1913 brought two regrettable changes. 
The privacy of our house at Ladbroke Grove, with its excel 
lent studio, being threatened by a neighbouring invasion, we 
left it for less imposing quarters in Pembridge Crescent. 
About the same time our landlord at Langton Field gave up 
Ms farm, so that almost perfect refuge from the world was 
also lost to us. My father-in-law, it is true, quickly found a 
substitute, more pleasant to the eye, and near ta his own 
house, on the other side of Appleby, but far, too far altogether, 
from the fells, the beck, the golf-course and the moor which 
had long been our playgrounds. 

Since our new abode would not be vacant till the summer, 
we spent Easter at Lyme Regis, where the old houses and 
tumbled cliffs provided plenty of material for drawings, but 
did not somehow inspire paintings in oil. An afternoon's 
trout-fishing on the Colne near Sandy Lodge, with Francis 
Draper, best of fellows and frame-makers, is another pleasant, 
memory of the early summer of 1914. My chief exhibit at 
the New English Art Club was The Burning Kiln, developed, 
not without effort, from a sketch near Purley. It was bought 

302 



1912-1916] THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY 

by Dr. Michael Sadler, who presented it some years later 
to the Tate Gallery. He also bought my Birches, Clay Cross 
from the Club's winter show. Time, I fancy, has muted its 
deep French Blues into a rather pleasant gray, but, when I 
last saw it, it still seemed the happiest of my efforts in the 
Neo-Japanese vein. 

At the Gallery we learned, from a portrait by Kneller of 
all people, what the modelling of a head in paint really 
ought to be. This Henry Sidney proved how great were the 
natural gifts of that most unequal painter. We compared 
it with portrait after portrait in the Gallery, to find that 
only Van Dyck, and occasionally Gainsborough, achieved 
the same solidity. A Reynolds was apt, as Max Beerbohm 
remarked, to suffer from floating kidney of the face. Max 
had come with the idea of getting likenesses of the Trustees 
for a group caricature, perhaps a 4 Death of Mr. Bernard 
Shaw,* with the Board sitting perplexed before tier upon tier 
of Shaw portraits in every conceivable style and medium. 
For me, a scribble on the back of an envelope was a suffi 
cient memento; but Lord Dillon refused to be sketched, 
and so nothing came of the scheme. 

The portraits of the Bronte sisters, by their brother Bran- 
well, gave us some anxiety. The canvases, discovered rolled 
up on the top of a wardrobe, had to be sold for the benefit 
of Mrs. Nicholls. As her Trustee, Mr. Reginald Smith, the 
Publisher and K.C., was compelled to dispose of them to the 
best advantage. What might not America bid for these 
remarkable relics? In the end Christie's were asked to value 
them, and their figure, fortunately, proved to be just within 
our means. It would have been heart-breaking had we failed 
to secure at least that profile of Emily Bronte, into which the 
very spirit of 'Wuthering Heights' and of her poetry seems 
somehow to have passed. 

People were not always so patriotic and considerate where 
the national collections were concerned. A mining magnate 
calmly asked us 40,000 for what had cost him 10,000 five 
years earlier, as I happened to know. A peer, much in the 

303 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1912-1916 

public eye and the Divorce Court,, left a portrait with us, 
for sale : then, so soon as we had identified it with a famous 
historical personage, took it off to Christie's. There, how 
ever, it looked rather insignificant, and through our staunch 
ally, Mr. Ernest Leggatt, we succeeded in getting it for 
exactly one-quarter of the price which we had intended to 
offer the owner. 

Rather later we had a further lesson; this time from a 
venerable Duke. On a certain Friday, Milner and I were 
asked to lunch, to be shown the pictures. Among them was 
one bearing a very great name ; it was really an important 
specimen of a less famous master. When asked about its 
quality and value, I was promised, as usual, that if ever it 
came to be sold, the Nation should have the first refusal. 
On that condition I gave the noble owner the correct name 
and a generous valuation. On the Monday following I 
happened to meet a well-known dealer in the street. He 

stopped me and said, 'Oh, the Duke of has just offered 

me his picture, saying you valued it at 12,000. Do you 
reaUy think it is worth quite so much? 3 Humbler folk could 
generally be trusted, and the much-abused dealer almost 
invariably. 

Public affairs now began to cast a grave shadow upon 
both private and official activities. A crowded, brilliant 
reception in Downing Street brought us within sight and 
hearing of personages whose names were become household 
words, in connexion with the Marconi scandal. At Euston, 
when about to start for the wedding of my school-fellow 
Peel, much pleased that he should have remembered me 
after so many years, I saw poor Lord Weardale, most genial 
of Trustees, banged on the head by a furious suffragette 
who had mistaken him for Mr. Asquith. Then came the 
mutilation of the 'Rokeby Velazquez 5 in the National 
Gallery. We had to close the Portrait Gallery for a fort 
night, to consider measures of precaution and defence, to 
hang the best pictures out of harm's way and to protect 
small works with Triplex glass. Other troubles are sug- 

304 



1912-1916] THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY 

gested by a note-book entry of March 3oth : e Resignation 
of French, etc. Asquith War Minister. Burned my clothes 
with pipe.' Further suffragette warnings came in May, 
glasses being smashed in the National Gallery. Finally in 
July, while we all were wondering what would happen next 
in Ireland, our portrait of Carlyle by Millais was attacked. 
A plucky student. Miss Mimpriss, and Wilson, now Head 
Attendant at the Gallery, seized the woman and prevented 
further damage. Then, just a week after we had attended 
the trial of the case at Bow Street, Austria declared war on 
Serbia. 

The action of Germany at this moment came to me as a 
complete surprise. In the past I had often done business 
with Germans, and found them both honest and pre 
eminently sensible. That their feeling towards us might be 
changing had been indicated two years before, at a lunch 
with F. R. Martin, where I met the afterwards famous Von 
Kiihlmann, Councillor of their London Embassy. When 
inquiring about affairs in England, Von Kiihlmann took 
such evident satisfaction in each sign of our national weak 
ness or divided counsels as to prove him less hostile than 
contemptuous. That contempt we seemed to have been 
steadily earning ever since. The crisis over the House of 
Lords, Labour unrest, financial laxity, fashionable extrava 
gance, the suffragette agitation, the menace of both mutiny 
and civil war in Ireland, all these pointed to the automatic 
and speedy decline of Britain, if only the warring parties 
were left alone to cut each other's throats. Germany, now 
at the height of her commercial prosperity and armed to 
the teeth, would in that case succeed, without effort or 
serious interference, to the leadership of the world. 

It seemed incredible that a nation so sensible, far-seeing 
and well-informed, as I believed Germany to be, could fail 
to recognize that everything was to be gained by waiting, 
at least until our internal troubles had come to a head. 
Even the pleasant and friendly Prince Lichnowsky was just 
the Ambassador whom a subtle government would choose 

305 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1912-1916 

to maintain the appearance of disinterested friendship until 
it was time to unmask. Stunned by the premature out 
burst, I quite failed to see in the hubris which scorned our 
futile efforts for peace an example, on a colossal scale, of 
the one sin which the gods never seem to overlook ; though 
their punishment is apt to be painfully slow in coming, and 
to sacrifice a needless number of innocents along with the 
culprit. But that is quite in the best tragic tradition. 

So bemused were we, that we failed also to see that this 
war meant the shelving, if not the destruction, of all that we 
had tried to do to improve and to popularize the Gallery. 
We actually continued for several months to discuss, and to 
complete, the plans for an immediate extension of our build 
ing by the Office of Works. Funds for this extension had 
been obtained from the Treasury with the utmost difficulty : 
we had soon to abandon all hope of seeing the work carried 
out. The dangers of attack from the air became the para 
mount concern. To meet them we constructed 'bomb- 
proofs/ of a sort, in our basements, where, protected by 
huge barriers of sandbags, by wire netting to catch splinters, 
by half-walled-up doorways to prevent flooding, and by 
attendants constantly practised in fire-drill, all the more 
precious and portable pictures in the collection might lie 
safe from anything but a direct hit. The engineering 
problem was rather fun: not so all the human problems 
connected with it. The quiet guardianship of our happy 
willing staff came to an end. Metamorphosed into squads 
of special constables, incessantly inspected and drilled, on 
duty night and day, the attendants had troubles of their 
own, for their paymasters failed at first to see that abnormal 
hours of service involved abnormal expenses for men whose 
homes were miles away in the suburbs. 

When all this was happily settled, at the end of 1915, an 
invasion from Whitehall called for fresh upheavals. To help 
to relieve the congestion caused by the forming of new 
Departments, the Trustees consented to lend the Gallery to 
the Office of Works for the use of the Separation Allow- 

306 



1912-1916] THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY 

ances department; obtaining, in virtue of their voluntary 
surrender, terms of the very best. Smoking was, of course, 
absolutely forbidden, indeed so completely was the Gallery 
safeguarded in every detail, that we had, in a few weeks, 
to receive, and somehow to satisfy, a deputation from the 
lady clerks, praying for a place where they might boil their 
tea-kettles. 

On the declaration of war I had placed myself immedi 
ately at the disposal of the Treasury. Since my Lords had 
no immediate use for me, I followed the lead of Binyon and 
Hind by joining the Volunteer Civil Force. The aim of this 
body was to provide a sort of auxiliary Police Reserve. At 
the Headquarters in Rochester Row, our oddly assorted 
company gathered and drilled, practising shooting in its 
spare time with '22 rifles and revolvers. The rabbits at 
Langton Field had made the former weapon familiar. The 
revolver was a novelty; ammunition was cheap, and the 
example of Milner, a good revolver-shot, stimulated my 
practice. Over my drilling I was less happy. I could not 
recover the stick-fed smartness of my Canterbury days ; yet 
for our quaint evolutions in and about Vincent Square I 
soon had reason to be thankful. 

Lord Dillon, indignant at being rejected as a recruit on 
account of his seventy years, and my friend Charles ffoulkes, 
then a C.P.O. in the R.N.V.R., introduced rne to that 
service, in which I enrolled as A.B. for Anti-Aircraft work. 
Being allotted to a searchlight squad on the roof of the 
Goods Station at Nine Elms, from which it was practically 
impossible to get home in the small hours, I was very kindly 
provided by Charles Aitken with a bed in the Tate Gallery 
basement, and hot cocoa. On our airy platform, the frost 
and bitter wind could be met with Bovril, rum and duplicate 
sweaters ; the cold, the darkness and the monotonous vigil 
ance being occasionally relieved by night alarms, or com 
bined effects of searchlight, snow and lightning. Our old- 
fashioned oxycalcium light needed careful watching ; other 
wise there was little that called for more than common 

307 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1912-1916 

patience, except the occasional contempt of some young 
embusque for a senior. Harrison, secretary of the Royal 
Society, was my particular chum on the station. In years 
he must almost have rivalled Sydney Glover, once on my 
staff at the ' Burlington Magazine/ who enlisted at the age 
of fifty-nine, fought in the Dardanelles and gained a com 
mission. 

In January 1915 I was one of those detailed for special 
service at Sandringham, with gunners from the R.H.A. and 
a detachment of Guards, during the King's visit. Owing to 
some misunderstanding no quarters were available when we 
arrived. I found rather a comic billet with some breeders 
of champion pigs, the best part of their cottage being 
crammed nearly to the ceiling with the prizes they had won, 
from a piano to a hip-bath. Unluckily all they could find 
to eat was a scrap of cold bacon and a little bread : the 
village shop had been cleaned right out. Next day, however, 
the King provided us with a noble mess at the West Newton 
Club; Mr. Gallagher, the vicar, proved a paragon of 
hospitality, and the Misses Wolfe sallied out in the bitter 
night bringing cocoa and cigarettes to the sentry at Sandring- 
ham Church. 

When the time came for his two hours' relief, that sentry- 
turned out of the cold into the gunners' crowded tent, lay 
down in the mud by the tent flap (where some kind neigh 
bour might spread a wet, filthy blanket over his legs)> 
dropped fast asleep at once, feeling as warm as toast, and 
caught neither rheumatism nor even a common cold. The 
gunners were less lucky; five of them died of pneumonia. 
My opposite number among the gunner sentries was rather 
a dear youth. We used to extend our beats as the night 
drew on, till we could exchange a word and a cigarette. 
Only once did I feel a qualm in his company. We were out 
for a walk together, and he suggested that we might brighten 
existence by 'picking up ' a girl ; a search which I managed 
to divert towards a little public-house, and to finish in cold, 
watery beer. 

308 



1912-1916] THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY 

The senior service had to keep its end up in the presence 
of the army, so, in the intervals of night duty, we were 
marched off to remote corners behind woods, to be drilled, 
and drilled, and drilled by our indefatigable commander, 
Lieutenant Pink. Charging with the bayonet was the thing 
in which I failed worst, puffing a hundred yards behind my 
long-legged juniors. Our second-in-command knew more 
of novel-writing than of practical drill. He was marching 
us back in fours when the track, and our progress, was 
stopped by a wicket-gate. We solemnly marked time in 
front of it, awaiting the order 'Form two deep' and its 
sequel. There was a long pause, and then e Halt ! Dismiss ! * 
It was a good thing none of the Guards were about. We had 
been held up to them (they were young recruits) as models 
by their Colonel. 

The King came to inspect our ramshackle searchlight, 
which chose that precise moment for casting off an essential 
supply tube from its nozzle. In consequence I had to greet 
His Majesty with my hinder parts, as I knelt on the lorry 
floor, holding the connexion together with my hands, and 
praying that my comfortable brown boots, hastily blacked 
over a week before in view of this expedition, should not 
catch his professional eye. 

At the very last moment 1 came nearer still to ruining our 
reputation. We had to march to Wolferton early on a black 
rainy morning. I had just got ready, when one of the pests 
of billets caught me by the calf. Unshipping the essential 
garments, I dealt with the intruder, by the light of a gutter 
ing candle-stump, and rushed off to the rendezvous. As we 
slung along the road, the dawn slowly came, and revealed 
that I was wearing only one gaiter. And there was to be a 
parade at the station, for the Guards Colonel, before we 
entrained ! Shifted, for concealment, into the rear rank, I 
awaited the event in terror. Fortunately we produced an 
extra c slap-up' 'Present Arms!'; even Pink was pleased, 
and when all was over, his chauffeur, beckoning from his 
car, produced the missing gaiter. My practical host had 

39 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1912-1916 

found it and run round with it to headquarters. Bless him 
and his pigs ! 

At the end of March the R-.N.A.S. was reorganized, but 
the new. conditions of service were so wholly incompatible 
with any work at the Gallery that I had to take my discharge. 
Never, for many years, had I felt so thoroughly hard and 
fit. After this bout of exercise in winter weather, the long, 
heavy, old-fashioned rifle served out to us weighed no more 
than a light twelve-bore; a route-march of a dozen miles 
in the mud, after a whole night on sentry duty, left one 
densely stupid but not over-tired ; aches and pains, internal 
or external, were almost unknown; lying down on a bed 
and getting a hot bath became extraordinary pleasures. 
Before that time I never had a hot bath in the morning : I 
have never enjoyed a cold one since. 

To help the various War charities, I was now permitted by 
my Trustees to give 'opinions ' on pictures for a fee, and so 
made one or two hundred pounds for the Officers' Families 
Fund, and/or any other similar causes which my clients 
might wish to benefit. Belgian refugees set other problems. 
My wife was particularly horrified by the story of the little 
girl whose hands had been cut off, and insisted on adopting 
this poor victim of the German advance. The Relief Com 
mittee set to work to trace her and bring her to us, and then 
discovered, to my intense relief, that she resembled the 
Russian troop-trains. 

In November 1914 I crossed to Dublin, to deliver the 
Hermione Lectures at Alexandra College. Under a drizzle, 
which lasted the whole week of my stay, the city looked 
squalid and bedraggled. But the traditional Irish hospi 
tality was unchanged. At Alexandra College I met Dermod 
O'Brien, 'George A. Birmingham/ and Maurice Headlam 
of the Treasury, who knew me by having acquired my Eton 
arm-chair. The Duncans, of the Modern Gallery (she 
hoped, I think, to make a proselyte for Ireland, he was a 
delightful Gallio), entertained me royally, and introduced 
me to the Abbey Theatre, where I met W. B. Yeats. Having 

310 



1912-1916] THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY 

admired his poems ever since I first read them, in Henley's 
'Scots Observer/ I was delighted to find him not only a 
poet, but one of the most practical of men ; a patriot but no 
wild optimist, who foresaw no permanent future for his 
native island. Any established government, however com 
pletely Irish, would always throw up a rebellious minority, 
to oppose it, to destroy it, and to be itself destroyed after 
securing power. 

'The Book of Kells ' seemed so marvellous that I trembled, 
during the subsequent siege of the place, lest a chance shell 
or outbreak of fire should destroy this miracle of a vanished 
Irish monastic refinement. The mediaeval antiquities, too, 
were most impressive, so was the Poussin Entombment in the 
Gallery, where I spent many hours making notes and sketch 
ing portraits. At first I could not get a likeness. The Irish 
facial proportions were quite different from the English, and 
needed a different thumb-nail formula. In the true native 
type, the broad nostrils come in the middle of the face, the 
upper lip is immense, the jaw and cheek-bones broad, the 
forehead low, as of some race, pre-Celtic, aboriginal, almost 
anthropoid. 

After paying a duty call at the grave of Swift with its 
grim epitaph, I came back, sketching from the boat and 
the train as my custom was. In consequence I was arrested 
at Euston as a spy, and could not convince a persistent 
detective and stolid railway officials of my harmless identity. 
In vain did I produce letters and cards ; in vain did I ask 
them to telephone to Vine Street, where Superintendent 
Sutherland was a personal friend. The spy-fever was at its 
height, and only the exhumation from the very bottom of 
my kit-bag of lantern-slides, lecture notes, and the Dublin 
Press notices of them, at last induced my captors to let 
me go. 

About this time I was urged by one or two influential 
friends to put my name down for the Royal Academy. I 
felt bound to decline, since election (had it ever taken place) 
might have prejudiced my claim to impartiality, at a time 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1912-1916 

when the Chantrey Bequest was still an incompletely settled 
problem. Gimmerton Churchyard, exhibited in the spring 
of 1915, excited Glutton-Brock, who discovered it to be 
'exactly like Wuthering Heights/ without realizing that the 
novel was its 'onlie begetter/ It is now in Lord Blanes- 
burgh's collection. Lectures on Michelangelo and Raphael 
at the Royal Institution, with the making of two tiny 
portrait-books for Lee- Warner, c The Great Victorians 3 and 
'The Great Elizabethans/ were other outside activities: 
Mestrovic at South Kensington provided the great artistic 
impression a Michelangelo, of another race, who made 
Alfred Stevens look like an eclectic, and Rodin like a 
Parisian. 

A children's fancy-dress dance and supper in January 
1916 entailed the setting out of all our little store of silver 
and plate, which was neatly cleared off in the small hours 
by a burglar, together with my poor Chinese bronzes. 
Nothing was insured. But in March an illustration in a 
picture-paper revealed the bronzes as part of the loot dis 
covered in a thieves' 'treasure house* at Chiswick, and we 
actually got back everything, except two salt-spoons which 
our honest parlour-maid could not positively identify. The 
Burlington Fine Arts Club was about to hold a Chinese 
Exhibition, and asked for the loan of the stolen bronzes, 
but did not require them, since the archaic specimens from 
recent Chinese excavations, which they were able to exhibit 
for the first time, were vastly superior in quality and beauty 
to almost everything with which collectors had previously 
been content. 

My fishing on the Windrush and the Colne in 1915 had 
been rather successful. My single day on the former river 
in 1916 was a total blank; a gale lashed the water into 
waves which not even the smallest chub could face. The 
blank, however (as at Hawes in 1909), proved the forerunner 
of things totally unexpected. 

Intercourse with my colleagues at the National Gallery 
over questions of finance, administration and plans for our 

312 



1912-1916] THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY 

extension on the St. George's Barracks site, had been con 
stant and friendly. As Holroyd's troubles increased and his 
health declined, our relations became more and more inti 
mate. His difficulties over the exhibition of the Lane 
pictures, his anxiety about the Masaccio Madonna and other 
contested purchases, now took me almost every day to 
Trafalgar Square for some informal consultation. Though 
Holroyd himself kept honourable silence, it was impossible 
not to be aware that matters were handled there with little 
consideration for his views or feelings. The tears which I 
once surprised in the Director's eyes, as he came out from 
the Board Room, were further evidence that all was not 
well with him, or with the place. His term of office would 
expire in the summer of 1916 ; the state of his heart already 
made continuous exertion impossible, and gossip as to his 
successor began, as usual, to be bandied about. 

My work took me frequently to the Treasury, and having 
not the least desire to put my head into the lion's den next 
door, I told my lords and masters plainly that I was not a 
candidate for the vacancy. I replied to a second inquiry 
by recommending the head of another institution, as the 
most suitable man (so indeed he was) for handling difficult 
personages and artistic problems. Then this very man, my 
chosen candidate, came to see me. A huge offer, it appeared, 
had been made for the famous Titians at Bridgewater House : 
only by raising an equivalent or greater sum could they be 
saved for England. His solution was to stand aside himself, 
and press for the appointment as Director of a business man, 
a friend of us both, whose ability in worldly matters ranked 
high, and who was genuinely interested in art. Though 
neither a painter nor a trained critic, his deficiencies in 
technical knowledge could be made up by the speaker, or 
by me, since I worked next door. 

This proposal to sacrifice scholarship to expediency to a 

momentary crisis which might pass (as it soon did pass) 
was so contrary to the sound principles of Gallery manage 
ment upon which we had all been agreed and eloquent for 

3*3 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1912-1916 

years, that I was profoundly shocked, and said so, I fear, 
with some heat. The Board at Trafalgar Square, without 
the direction of assured critical knowledge, would inevitably 
remain amateurish, hesitating and ineffective. Yet, if I 
could not, on principle, approve the scheme, I would not, 
from friendship, oppose it. Having no axe of my own to 
grind, I at once wrote semi-officially, to the Treasury, 
reiterating my decision not to be a candidate. What others 
might do was no concern of mine. Claude Phillips was, 
doubtless, too old for the appointment ; Roger Fry, drenched 
by Post-Impressionism and immersed in his Omega busi 
ness, now seemed, by general consent, to be out of the 
running; but Ricketts, Cockerell, Martin Conway and 
Whitworth Wallis all appeared to be men who, in their 
very different ways, might be able to work with the National 
Gallery Trustees and guide them sensibly. 

Meanwhile the Bridgewater peril was considered at con 
ferences between Lords Curzon, Lansdowne and Plymouth, 
with Ricketts, Witt and MacColl. We agreed that the most 
hopeful defence would be to raise a capital sum, by selling 
some of the 'duplicate' Dutch pictures at Trafalgar Square 
and part of our immense collection of works by Turner. 
The necessary powers would have to be got by a Parlia 
mentary Bill ; the necessary schedules and valuations were 
prepared by Ricketts and myself. This experience con 
firmed my belief that Ricketts was really about the best man 
now left available for the National Gallery. His acute con- 
noisseurship, his ready wit, even his little affectations of 
manner, would have forced attention and carried weight 
with the Trustees, while the 'splendidly efficient 3 Collins 
Baker, as Keeper and Secretary, would have saved him from 
the worst of the routine work. Other claims, however, were 
being put forward, so I had to keep my preferences to 
myself and let events take their course, occasional impatience 
to put in a word being restrained by the wise counsel of 
Milner, Collins Baker and Harold Child. 
One July afternoon, Lord Ribblesdale appeared in the 



1912-1916] THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY 

Board Room of the Portrait Gallery. Though always 
friendly, his fine presence and curt, sudden humour rendered 
him slightly formidable as a Trustee, and called far caution 
in any exchange of words. His ostensible business was a 
picture of Lunardi and his balloon. That done with, .he 
sat, nonchalant, on a corner of the big table, and asked me 
why I was not a candidate for the National Gallery. He 
was not alone in wishing to know my reasons for standing 
aside. I gave them with equal frankness. I was very happy 
indeed at the Portrait Gallery; I should not be so, in 
existing conditions, at Trafalgar Square, as he would realize. 
Moreover, I did not wish to stand in the way of any friend. 
If one candidate did not satisfy the Prime Minister, as he 
seemed to imply, there were other good men to choose 
from. I named several, but without making much apparent 
impression. At last he went off, telling me to think it over 
again. 

Just a week later, when I was alone and about to leave 
the Gallery, he marched in (no sauntering this time) and 
went straight to the point. The Prime Minister, being a 
scholar himself, wished to know why a scholar should be 
unwilling to consider such a post as the Directorship. Since 
I had not taken the hint he had given me on the previous 
Monday, he had now to order me to put in writing my 
reasons for declining to apply, and to send them to him 
that evening in the form of a letter. I could speak quite 
optaly; my confidence would be respected. 

Naturally flattered, and horribly embarrassed, I sat down, 
when he had gone, to express my present happiness, my 
doubts and fears about the other Board v 'Holroyd's tears 
could not be forgotten), the claims of other candidates and 
the improbability of my getting all the support from above 
which I thought the Director needed. Feeling, however, 
that some consideration was due to those who had paid me 
the compliment of inquiry, I added, 'But if the powers that 
be thought me really the best man for a very difficult job, 
and gave me the backing it requires, these hesitations would 

315 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1912-1916 

not count; I would accept the post, and should hope in 
time to derive some amusement from it. 9 

I was mistaken in thinking that the impudence of the 
closing words might save me, at the cost of my reputation 
for good sense, from the perilous honour. Three days later 
a telephone message from Downing Street told me that I 
was appointed. 'Should I have the full support of Downing 
Street and the Treasury? 5 'Yes. 5 There was nothing for 
it but thanks and acceptance, on that understanding. 

The next morning I had to travel to Lancashire, for the 
wedding of my cousin, Adela Dickson, at Garstang. Our 
host for the occasion was my old friend the Rev. John 
Wilson ( c Willy 3 ) Pedder, angling mentor of boyhood, pioneer 
of the Windrush, and owner of Bortree Tarn near Lakeside, 
where I had meditated over the ways of pike and perch. 
After breakfast on Saturday, another old fisherman friend, 
the gardener William, produced the very bamboo pole we 
had used there thirty years before, with a tin of worms, and 
down I went once again to the turbid Wyre. At a familiar 
corner I caught neither trout nor sea-trout, but a gudgeon, 
a fluke, a large minnow and a small eel, while a rival angler 
on the opposite bank got a quarter-pound chub. When, in 
due course, we reached the church, a beaming uncle 
appeared to congratulate me ; the National Gallery appoint 
ment had been announced in the 'Times 5 that morning. 
Feeling that the thing was no certainty until conditions had 
been agreed, I had said little or nothing about recent events 
except to my wife. She, with her wonted practical sense, 
warned me on no account to exchange my permanency as 
a Civil Servant for a temporary post however distinguished. 
And at Downing Street, on the following (Sunday) morn 
ing, I found that the conditions were not agreed ; far from 
it. The Treasury next day were equally dubious on the 
financial question. So I stayed at the Portrait Gallery while 
the discussions went on, answering, it is true, the current 
queries from Trafalgar Square and countless letters of con 
gratulation, but anticipating all the time that a withdrawal 

316 



1912-1916] THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY 

of the announcement would be needed. At the end of ten 
days, it was settled that I should retain my rights as a Civil 
Servant, so that I should not be liable to dismissal at the 
end of five years ; also that the Trafalgar Square Board 
should be leavened by the immediate appointment of our 
friend Witt as a Trustee. But any administrative reform, 
even an improvement in the Director's powers of purchase, 
was not to be had. 

I therefore declined the appointment, and said I would 
stay at the Portrait Gallery. Downing Street smiled : c That 
is impossible now. The door is closed. We have just 
offered the Directorship to Milner.' And when I got back 
gloomily to the Board Room, there, sure enough, stood a 
blushing Milner, and a laughing Lord Dillon who greeted 
me with c It's no good : you can't get out of it. 3 Milner, 
like the noble fellow he was, seeing my rueful face, at once 
said he would decline promotion if I really wished to stay. 
But the die was cast; and pleasure in Milner's succession 
(which I feared the authorities would never approve) 
prevented me from worrying over-much about my failure 
to escape, or to reform, Trafalgar Square. 

Lord Dillon told me afterwards that Lord Ribblesdale had 
called to see him about my appointment, and spoke so 
warmly of his interest in me and my future that, said Lord 
Dillon, c I felt I had never really known him before or seen 
him to such advantage.' When I had a chance of thanking 
Lord Ribblesdale, I felt bound to apologize for the flippant 
ending of that fatal letter. c Not at all, 9 said he. c When that 
was read out, they all exclaimed, "Why, this is the man 
for us.' 3 3 



317 



CHAPTER XVII 
THE NATIONAL GALLERY (i) 

(1916-1918) 

Gallery troubles ; first Board Meetings ; Lord Curzon and 
Lord Plymouth; Parliamentary Bills; the Lane Bequest; a 
dinner-party ; spiritualism ; air-raids ; loan of a Tube station ; 
an outrage ; designs for war medals ; war pictures ; Bellini's 
Bacchanal and other paintings; the Degas Sale in Paris; 
Arnold Bennett and Lord Curzon; Lord Lansdowne elected 
Chairman, 

MY fate had been decided on August 2nd, but there were 
many things to be cleared up at the Portrait Gallery, many 
to be considered at the National Gallery, so for five days I 
lived between the two places, a harried amphibian. The 
first sight of the Director's room at Trafalgar Square caused 
my -heart to sink. Neglected and forlorn, with bare, dis 
coloured walls; a tattered carpet as dirty as the floor, a few 
odd bits of shabby lodging-house furniture, and the frowsy 
camp-bed on which poor Holroyd used to rest, the place 
made a pitiable contrast to the comfort, the dignity, of the 
Board Room I was leaving. Summoning, therefore, all my 
courage, the stout Head Attendant, the ladylike House 
keeper, and the Office of Works, I demanded a clearance, 
cleanliness and appropriate furniture, settling myself mean 
while in the room of the absent Collins Baker to deal with 
the countless things which called for immediate attention. 

First came the drafting of the two Bills empowering the 
Trustees to sell 'redundant 3 Turners and other pictures. 
These had to be discussed with the Parliamentary draftsman, 
Sir F. F. LiddeU, at the Treasury; each verbal emendation 
being reported to Lord Curzon and others. The geography 
of the upper floor of the building, occupied partly by second- 
rate pictures, partly by Admiralty clerks, was already 

318 



1916-1918] THE NATIONAL GALLERY 

familiar, but the vast subterranean labyrinths, in which the 
more precious things were stacked, needed hours of grimy 
exploration. Then Ambrose, the veteran clerk who had 
served with Burton and Wornum and the younger Eastlake, 
would produce documents bearing on past Directors' diffi 
culties, as a pleasing intimation of the treatment I might 
expect. Mr. J. P. Heseltine would call and gossip for hours ; 
Mr. Benson would come, apparently to find out how in the 
world I had got myself appointed, while down in the 
repairing-room lay our famous Palma-Titian portrait of 
A Poet, a sorry spectacle, a mere skin of blistered paint. 
Having been successfully detached from its old canvas, it 
had now refused three times to stick to a new one, and was, 
as a last desperate resource, about to be pressed on to a 
panel. In addition, I had to deal single-handed with every 
kind of letter, question and visitor, to report on pictures at 
Christie's and at Agnew's for various Trustees, and to see 
how the whole Layard Collection, just received, could be 
stored, put in order and provisionally catalogued. When, 
at the end of a week, I went up for my Civil Service medical 
examination, the doctor at first would not pass me. Only 
when I had stripped to the skin did he decide that I might 
stay the course. A few days later, when Collins Baker was 
coming back from leave, I escaped to Appleby for a month 
of bad, stormy fishing. 

Though Collins Baker was less optimistic, I looked forward 
without much apprehension to my first Board Meeting. 
Such Trustees as I had met had shown themselves polite, if 
not friendly, and I trusted that my experience at the Portrait 
Gallery would carry us through safely. Being a bit of a 
precisian, I was chiefly anxious to find out how much the 
Director was really allowed to do. By what self-imposed 
limits was the Board accustomed to modify the terms of 
Lord Rosebery's Minute of 1894? Under it the Director 
seemed liable to complete suppression at any moment, or in 
any connexion, by a majority vote. My first three Board 
Meetings were to settle this question, and to establish the 

319 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1916-1918 

pleasant working relations' which lasted almost to the end 
of Lord Curzon's life, and of this humble narrative; but the 
settlement was not effected without some rather amazing 
preludes. 

At this point Truth and Charity, my twin stretcher- 
bearers, threaten to break step, casting uneasy glances as 
Justice, her balances clanging, moves firmly to the side of 
the one, while Propriety, finger on official lip, takes the 
other's arm. 'What a chance! 5 twitters the shade of 
Trollope ; from afar a bleeding victim cries, * No weakness ! ' 
c You dare to threaten us? 3 growls the Wolf to the Lamb. 
The clash of thought recalls the hermit of Rapallo. What 
would his maxim be? Soyez tranquille,' perhaps? After 
all, a short quotation from evidence given before the Royal 
Commission in 1928 will summarize the facts; one or two 
paragraphs will indicate the atmospheric environment, 1 and 
that is enough for History. 

c At the National Portrait Gallery the Director was a 
professional adviser to the Board, an administrator of the 
Gallery, whom the Trustees united to help and encourage. 
At Trafalgar Square his opinion seemed neither to be asked 
nor expected. As the controversies between Lord Lans- 
downe and Sir Edward Poynter were on record, and as the 
breakdown of Sir Charles Holroyd under the system had 
just occurred, I saw that this attitude was not personal to 
myself, but was the tradition of the place. Lord Plymouth 
acted as mediator in the discussions which ensued, and an 
assurance was obtained from Lord Curzon that in 99 per 
cent, of the technical matters discussed the Board would 
accept the Director's opinion.' 

1 It has been suggested in more than one quarter, and not merely in jest, 
that some unquiet spirit, some aura of Discord, some emanation, perhaps, of 
ancient conflict, haunts the National Gallery; that it can be exorcized by a 
good and brave man, like Lord Plymouth ; and that it can return when the 
salutary influence is withdrawn. I am no believer in such objective psychic 
invasions. Yet there must be something queer about the place. Only a few 
months ago I learned the experience of a most distinguished Trustee, a veteran 
maitre (Formes of debate, a leader in every grave political contest for twenty 
years or more. Not one of his major activities took so much out of him as a 
Board Meeting at Trafalgar Square. 

320 



1916-1918] THE NATIONAL GALLERY 

If only the Commission of 1928 could have put Lord 
Curzon's eirenicon into formal shape, as I urged them to do, 
it would have solved the chief problem of the Gallery in the 
simplest possible manner. And Lord Curzon deserves credit 
both for introducing it at a time when the Director's very 
existence was being studiously ignored, and for keeping to it 
afterwards, at the cost, I am sure, of some internal qualms. 

Lord Plymouth's mediation was no less timely, courageous 
and effective. Since the Trustees had not been consulted 
about my appointment, the Minute recording it was natur 
ally unpopular. Baker was severely reprimanded for inter 
preting it correctly ; two Ministers were deputed to obtain 
its rescission from Mr. Asquith. c And if, Mr. Holmes, 3 added 
one noble neighbour, c the Prime Minister, as we anticipate, 
accepts our view of the matter, your friends at the Treasury 
will doubtless be able to provide you with some other 
occupation.' 

The deputation was unsuccessful. Hoping to prevent the 
reopening of a dangerous topic, I rashly put in, 'Surely it's 
a case ofsolvuntur risu tabulae? Couldn't we now get on with 
our real business? ' ; forgetting, in my haste, the sting in the 
Horatian context. Lord Curzon, sitting opposite, turned 
full red ; then the corners of his mouth lifted and twitched ; 
he was suppressing a laugh at his own expense. He had 
proved himself a man to respect, possibly even to like. 

Baker now pointed out, with equal courage and dignity, 
that his own humiliation had been no solitary injustice: 
it would hardly be too much to say that the breakdown of 
the late Director's health was due to what might be termed 
the electrical atmosphere of this Board Room.' Protests, 
denials, excuses followed, till an appeal was made to Lord 
Plymouth. That honest gentleman, much embarrassed, 
replied that there was only too much truth in what had been 
said as to the way in which the late Director had felt his 
treatment by the Board. 'And since you have appealed to 
me, 5 he concluded, c let me entreat the Board that this may 
be the last of these deplorable scenes/ To that there could 

321 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1916-1918 

be no reply, and the proceedings ended quietly. Lord 
Plymouth's intercession had done its work. The moral 
effect of it lasted for some time after his untimely death, and 
the first of my volumes on the National Gallery is dedicated 
to his memory, for, without the confidence and good feeling 
which his presence introduced, the activities of the place 
during the next five years must have been sadly cramped. 
His share in the work of reconstruction deserves to rank with, 
if not above, Lord Curzon's. 

So surprising were these debates that I followed them 
spell-bound, with a little anxiety, much sympathy for my 
colleague, and then with complete political disillusion. For 
I was a Conservative born and bred, nurtured upon the 
solid old "Standard, 3 confirmed in my faith by intercourse 
with the great gentlemen at the Portrait Gallery. Now, in 
a flash, I saw what years of provocation must have led up to 
the Parliament Act. My titular idols had revealed feet of 
rather ugly clay, and were clearly no objects for veneration. 
Common sense forbade any transfer to the narrowing taber 
nacles of Liberalism. To plunge into the froth of Socialism 
was absurd. A Conservative, of sorts, I must remain ; but 
a devotee no longer. It was just as well, perhaps ; a Civil 
Servant has no business with party politics. 

In fairness to the Board, it must be added that the circum 
stances were exceptional. The War just then was imposing 
a heavy strain upon everyone, particularly upon those in 
great positions. My unexpected appointment doubtless 
upset some calculations; the memory of ancient criticisms 
of the Gallery in the 'Burlington Magazine' may still have 
rankled ; certain recent Press notices, hailing my appearance 
as a presage of reform, may have roused further suspicion : 
any or all of these causes would tend to aggravate the tradi 
tional practice of keeping the Director rather more strictly 
in his place than was the custom elsewhere. Altogether, in 
obtaining almost immediate freedom from the chief of our 
disabilities without incurring much ill-will, we were un 
commonly lucky. 

322 




G. H. COLLINS BAKER, 1932 
After a drawing by Francis Dodd, R.A. 



1916-1918] THE NATIONAL GALLERY 

We had anyhow little time for worrying: current affairs 
kept us too busy. Baker's unselfish energy relieved me of 
more than half my labours ; his dry, affectionate humour 
lightened all the rest, instinctive friendship being cemented 
by our common danger. Now that Montague House, 
Grosvenor House and Bridgewater House were being 
- evacuated, for use as extra Government offices, the valuation, 
reception and storage of a large part of their pictorial con 
tents interfered considerably with our work on the Layard 
Collection, and other business proper to the Gallery. The 
Bridgewater pictures gave us the most trouble, since one of 
them developed blisters when transferred to our cellars, and 
the resultant claim for compensation had to be argued and 
settled with the Office of Works. Such technical questions, 
indeed, are best settled out of court. About this time the 
pleadings of a famous counsel in another claim, with which 
we were indirectly concerned, proved so strangely at issue 
with his client's interest that they were referred by the 
solicitor to a higher authority. c Was he drunk? ' promptly 
asked the latter. e No, it was only eleven in the morning,' 
was the solicitor's reply. But the expensive result had to be 
accepted in silence ; the offender was too eminent for open 
protest. 

The Trustees, meanwhile, were embarrassed by a staring 
portrait of Lord Kitchener ( c the most over-rated man of our 
time' one strong dissentient dared to say), which they were 
ultimately compelled by outside pressure to accept for 
exhibition, in defiance of all precedent. Then, with Sir 
Cecil Smith and G. F, Hill, I was engaged for some two years 
in settling competitions or designs for the Scroll and Plaque 
presented to the Next-of-Kin to the Fallen, and for the 
various war medals and badges. Our little triumvirate 
worked in such perfect harmony that the only trials to our 
patience came when well-considered plans were patched 
and mutilated by semi-public or official committees. 

The immediate nightmare, however, was our Parlia 
mentary Bill. To sell pictures which the Nation really could 

323 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1916-1918 

spare, in order to be able to buy the pictures which ought 
to remain in England, was sound enough in theory. But in 
practice it was difficult to carry any such idea to an effective 
conclusion without seeming to encroach upon the rights of 
testators, a point on which my friend Claude Phillips, and 
his chief Lord Burnham, displayed uncompromising hos 
tility. Lord D'Abernon was to introduce the Bill in the 
House of Lords. My preparation of the notes for his speech, 
at the cost of infinite labour, corrections and talk, resulted 
in such a sequence of commonplaces that he, very sensibly, 
discarded them all in favour of his own native powers of 
persuasion. 

Baker and I were naturally admitted to hear the debate. 
The vigour of expression which we had found so hard to 
endure was not, it appeared, a monopoly of our Board 
Room. Lord Burnham, leading the Opposition with no 
little spirit and eloquence, received a dressing-down from 
Lord Curzon which made everybody smile, but was not 
calculated to reconcile one whose command of publicity 
rendered him really formidable. Personally, I picked up 
sundry useful periphrases and Parliamentary turns of speech, 
which afterwards made an invaluable jam for conveying the 
powder of crude fact to my dignified colleagues. The easy 
monosyllables of the Portrait Gallery style had evidently 
been too familiar, too lacking in respect for a different place 
and very different persons. 

At this time the first symptoms of trouble over Sir Hugh 
Lane's Bequest began to show. Sir Joseph Duveen's gift of 
a modern Foreign Gallery, by fulfilling the conditions of 
Lane's will, had made the legal position safe for England. 
Lane's friends and relatives, however, maintained that 
Dublin had been his true love to the end, and that his jeal 
wishes would not be carried out unless London ceded his 
French pictures to the city which had flouted him. His 
aunt, Lady Gregory, put the case to Lord Curzon, who 
came one day to the Gallery to dictate a reply. Presently 
he embarked upon a paragraph of some complexity. Our 

324 



1916-1918] THE NATIONAL GALLERY 

gentle, willing typist, pausing in her shorthand, looked up at 
him, pink and doubtful. Lord Curzon repeated his period. 
Miss Ruse listened, blushed scarlet and finally ejaculated, 
c Please, Lord Curzon, it isn't grammar. 5 I hastened to 
explain that it was a dependent sentence and quite correct, 
while Lord Curzon sat back and rocked with laughter. 

My most interesting social experience was an evening at 
Lord D'Abernon's, at Foley House, a day or two after Mr. 
Lloyd George had succeeded Mr. Asquith as Prime Minister. 
Mrs. Asquith happened to be my neighbour at dinner, and 
the qualities to which she owed her exceptional fascination 
quickly became evident. The brilliance of her talk was only 
equalled by its transparent candour. In half-an-hour I had 
learned more about Downing Street realities than in all the 
rest of my life. One point which struck me was the immense 
influence then wielded by the popular Press. Mr. Asquith, 
immersed in affairs, had avoided revealing himself to Press 
men. Mr. Lloyd George, by taking them into his con 
fidence, had won their hearts. Speaking of courage, Mrs. 
Asquith said that the bravest man she had ever met was 
c Mr. McKenna over there/ and she looked across the table. 
When refusing to cut down the Naval Estimates some years 
before, and thereby immensely strengthening our forces for 
the present emergency, he had dared to face not only 
popular clamour, but his party and his friends. The sym 
pathies of the company being generally Asquithi'an, banter 
and legends about his rival were freely exchanged. One 
biting summary, attributed to Lord Morley, I still recall: 
'As a friend, Brutus; as an orator, Ananias; as a man of 
business, ask Marconi. 3 The charm and beauty of my 
hostess and Mrs. McKenna dispelled in time these rather 
acrid political vapours, and ended delightfully an enter 
tainment which for a novice had been almost too exciting. 

'Raymond,* by Sir Oliver Lodge, had become the book 
of the moment. Many who would not in normal times have 
listened to any such testimony, felt that the merest chance 
of communicating with those whom they had recently lost 

325 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1916-1918 

ought not to be missed. 'Sludge, the Medium 5 was for 
gotten: 'The Road to Endor 3 was not yet in existence. 
Happening to call on Ricketts one evening at Lansdowne 
Road, I found that Edmund Dulac was expected. He and 
Yeats were attending a seance by one of Sir Oliver's most 
notable mediums, the one, I fancy, who held out hopes of 
spirit cigars and spirit whiskies-and-sodas in the world to 
come. Ricketts, himself a sceptic, was a little dubious as to 
what Dulac's reactions might be. But when that artist came, 
he promptly condemned the whole performance as quite 
second-rate. Yeats, it is true, had been rather impressed 
(they were supposed to be incogniti) by recognition, and by 
approbation of his latest book, but Dulac's identity appeared 
to cause the spirit some trouble. At last, e I seem to hear a 
little voice "Ap-Ap-Ap-Apstein/" was ventured. Dulac 
made no move, so the interview continued and ended under 
that decisive misapprehension. 

So far the War had left us untouched, but its possibilities 
were brought home to us in January 191 7 by a shock felt one 
evening in Trafalgar Square. It seemed as if a great bomb 
had dropped somewhere on the Horse Guards Parade, so 
close did the detonation sound, so palpably did the earth 
heave : and yet the explosion was at Silvertown, miles away. 
Recurrent shortages of coal and foodstuffs were further 
omens of trouble, and at times rather serious, as when, in 
that chilly spring, my wife and my two boys were all laid 
up with measles. No nurse, of course, could be had ; our 
faithful Nannie was our one remaining maid, and had not 
a girl friend come to the rescue from Appleby we should 
have been in sore straits. The invalids were kept happy by 
constant reading aloud. After a time they became bored 
with all ordinary fiction; then stories of crime and sensa 
tion failed to stimulate. Only when, as a final resource, I 
procured them a copy of 'Dracula,' did they admit a 
stirring of the senses, and decide that it was time to get well. 
A proposal now came from, or through, Sir Fabian Ware, 
that I should accept the Chairmanship of the Imperial War 

326 



1916-1918] THE NATIONAL GALLERY 

Graves Commission. I felt bound to decline. Even if the 
Trustees and the Treasury would both approve, which was 
unlikely, such a widespread duplication of activities could not 
fail to involve some neglect of my duty to Trafalgar Square. 
Events, almost immediately, proved my renunciation to be 
right. The air-raids began in earnest, and, as the nearest 
resident to the Gallery, I had constantly to be on the spot. 
To be called up early in the small hours, to get somehow 
from Notting Hill to Trafalgar Square (it's a long, long way 
to run), was a nuisance. Yet I disliked the daylight raid 
of June 1 3th still more. I had to patrol the Gallery, among 
my cheerful old Service men with the fire-hoses, pretending 
not to be afraid as the Gothas droned overhead (one hadn't 
the fun of watching them), while the imagination persisted 
in thinking how the splinters of glass would fly if a bomb 
happened to drop among the pictures. 

One afternoon, a few days later, I returned from wrestling 
with the Stores over our domestic sugar supply, to find that 
Sir Lionel Earle had called to tell the Keeper about the 
latest type of German bomb. Our cellars were bomb-proof 
no longer. I set to work upon velocity statistics from the 
Encyclopedia, and calculated that nothing short of burial 
forty feet down would be a protection against the new 
missiles. As Baker and I discussed the problem, we recalled 
glimpses of mysterious sidings seen when travelling by the 
Tube. Could some such place be found, and utilized? 
My friend Henry Oppenheimer was one of the great men 
of the Underground : we rang him up to inquire. He came 
to the Gallery at once ; took us to the Headquarters of the 
Railway and introduced us to Mr. Burton, the Managing 
Director, who, before we left, made us the offer, on most 
generous terms, of the unused station in the Strand. We 
inspected it that evening. Sir Lionel Earle warmly approved 
the idea and, with his busy henchman Frank Baines, set 
about transforming the place into a perfect subterranean 
fortress. There, by January 1 8th 1918, to my intense relief, 
for the air-raiders were busy, some nine hundred of our best 

327 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1916-1918 

pictures, with, selected works from great private collections, 
the Portrait Gallery, and elsewhere, had found safe harbour. 
A section of the unfinished Post Office Tube was subse 
quently adapted, in similar fashion, to the needs of the other 
great museums, 

Yet the lift to our deep asylum would not contain the 
largest pictures at Trafalgar Square. Some had simply to 
be walled up in situ ; others could be rolled for travelling. 
Through the mediation of my uncle, Arthur Dickson, we 
secured from Lady Wantage the loan of Overstone Hall, 
near Northampton, to which Baker journeyed all through a 
dark January day with two immense picture- vans. 

Lord D'Abernon kindly offered us the loan of his tennis- 
court at Esher Place as an alternative or supplement. While 
Baker and I were inspecting it, a telephone call from 
Ambrose announced an outrage in the Gallery. A soldier 
had damaged several pictures with a trenching-tool. Back 
we hurried, to find that evasion of active service was the 
apparent motive. Such an .example might have a de 
plorable effect should it become public. Down went Baker 
to the War Office to settle procedure there, while I tele 
phoned to the Police, the Home Office and the Press Censor, 
and notified Lord Curzon. To avoid the notoriety of a 
civil action, the man would have to be handed over by the 
Police to the Military Authorities for court-martial. Early 
the next morning the damaged pictures had been replaced 
by others, and the Trustees were hastily summoned by a 
confidential memorandum. 'Good heavens! 5 exclaimed 
one veteran (usually a model of cold, diplomatic prudence), 
6 1 didn't realize it was confidential. I'm afraid I've been 
talking about it at the Club.' 

All, however, went well. The Board did not disapprove; 
the culprit was quietly handed over to his regiment, court- 
inartialled and packed off abroad ; the club gossip led to 
nothing, as did the wonder of those who dreamed that they 
had seen an outrage, and Holder made a marvellous job 
of mending the damages. Indeed I can only identify the 

328 



1916-1918] THE NATIONAL GALLERY 

focus of trouble upon Claude's Embarkation of St. Ursula by 
remembering how, in admiration of Holder's work, I asked 
Mm to let me take his brush and touch upon one small 
passage, so that I might have a private memento of his 
achievement. The lady's face in a picture by Ochtervelt is 
a similar tour deforce of mending without repainting. 

The repairs to the Claude necessarily involved removal 
of the old varnish, which had mellowed with years to a rich 
reddish-brown. The painting beneath proved to be as sharp, 
cool and vivid in tone as any modern work, so vivid that 
it was deemed inadvisable, at first, to show it on our walls. 
Even when we ultimately did so, the usual charges of over- 
cleaning and 'removal of the glazes' followed. Sir Aston 
Webb and several members of the Royal Academy were 
among the critics, but when, after failing to find a trace of 
the damaged portions, they saw the photograph of the 
picture before it was mended, they went quietly away. 
Now that the new mastic varnish has had time to mellow, 
nobody could guess what the picture's adventures have been. 
Except, perhaps, for a slight general increase in clarity and 
luminosity, it looks just the same as it did thirty years ago. 

Almost all the activities of this war period were accom 
panied by some tension or confusion. Even normally 
peaceful bodies like the Walpole Society developed internal 
pains. I got vexed myself with the Red Cross Committee, 
and nearly quarrelled with my friend Baker. Impatient of 
all civilian duties while others were fighting, he set his heart 
upon going to the Front. In vain did I protest. He qualified 
as a motor driver, obtained the consent of the Board, and 
went off triumphant, only to return an hour or two later 
rejected on medical grounds. 

The Tate Gallery, too, turned militant. It had so long 
been kept under the heel of the National Gallery that the 
appointment in 1917 of a separate Board of Trustees, and 
other insignia of partial independence, led naturally to 
resilience. The Royal Academy was sharply challenged 
over the administration of the Chantrey Fund, and finally 

329 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1916-1918 

brought to sanction something like the working compromise 
of to-day. Claims to absorb all our c modern 3 foreign 
pictures, including Goya and Ingres, drove me to explosion, 
and to shelter behind my own Trustees from the masterful 
rapacity of my friends at Millbank. I admired, of course, 
all the time that I had to oppose. Only, perhaps, by asking 
for everything can a Director make sure of getting the 
greater part of what he requires, and those who to-day visit 
the Tate Gallery will see that the enthusiasm, or policy, of 
its second founders, MacColl and Aitken, has been com 
pletely justified. 

With Cecil Smith and G. F. Hill, I continued to work in 
perfect harmony, though our little medallic triumvirate had 
occasional vigorous actions with other public or official 
committees. Only once did we nearly suffer a serious 
reverse, and that was at the War Office. The right was, 
mostly, on our side, the diplomacy all on theirs; and 
diplomacy would have won the day, had not the result of it 
been so plainly unworkable that we agreed to a friendly 
compromise. I have had a healthy respect for the War 
Office ever since. The Foreign Office, the Colonial Office, 
the Air Force, the Mercantile Marine, the Prisoners of War 
Helpers, and even the Neutrals, had all their separate medals 
or badges to be competed for and judged, apart from the 
Memorial Plaque. The competition for this Plaque, being 
open to everyone, including men on active service, brought 
hundreds of models to Trafalgar Square, of every size, and 
executed in every sort of material. The piles of them prac 
tically filled a whole cellar. These were gradually sifted to 
some two dozen, and from these the final three at last were 
chosen. We were repaid for our care, for the Select List of 
those who^ had shown promise in this first essay proved of 
great service when organizing more limited competitions. 
No supreme medallic genius emerged, yet the results, I 
think, were generally tolerable, and once, at least, in the 
Badge intended for Native Chieftains (it must be a numis 
matic rarity), quite charming. 

330 



1916-1918] THE NATIONAL GALLERY 

Occasionally I slipped down to Walton to see Holroyd, 
now a complete invalid, and to keep him posted with the 
Gallery news. His last request, to hang our big Tintoretto, 
Christ washing Peter's Feet, over the stairs in the entrance hall, 
was carried out when the place was rearranged after the 
War. In November 1917 his gentle, much-enduring spirit 
found release from a world altogether too rough and exacting 
for it. A month or two later, he was followed to the grave 
by one of his chief critics, Mr. Alfred de Rothschild, long 
respected by the Board for his wealth, his masterful temper 
and his collection of pictures ; from which they optimistic 
ally ' imagined that the Gallery would receive some very 
considerable benefit. I knew him only by repute, and by 
a message of approval which he once sent me from his sick 
bed. His death therefore did not affect me as did those of 
Holroyd and of Robbie Ross, that delightful, witty gentle 
man, become conspicuous, through his loyalty to Oscar 
Wilde, as the very pattern of friendship and its unlucky 
victim. 

At the instigation of Lee- Warner I made, during 1917, one 
or two utterly feeble essays in lithography, while continuing 
to paint at intervals. In spite of the hard times, some 
pictures and drawings got sold. Only one, however, is a 
distinct and pleasant memory. Whernside, shown at the 
New English Art Club in the winter of that year, found no 
purchaser at the time. Yielding to the general indifference, 
I put it aside and used it for some time as a drawing-board. 
Baker discovered it serving that humble purpose in 1923, 
when he was composing his little monograph on my work, 
and insisted on its resurrection. It was ultimately bought by 
Sir Evan Charteris, and presented by him to the Tate 
Gallery. 

In April 1918, exhibitions of war paintings and drawings 
by Orpen, Rothenstein and Paul Nash indicated a desire 
of the authorities for similar propaganda, and I, among 
others, was invited to do something to illustrate our efforts 
in England. My original mission was abruptly cancelled : 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1916-1918 

the place had just blown up. Instead, I was sent to Sheffield 
and, before sketching at Vickers's, Hadfield's and other local 
centres, was taken over to Steel, Peech and Tozer's at 
Rotherham. There, after a glass of champagne in the office, 
I was escorted to see c the view from the old tip.' A storm 
of rain blotted out the landscape, and we stumbled for 
shelter into a crowded platelayers' cabin on a railway 
embankment. The rain passed ; we stepped out ; and, lo ! 
we were standing on the verge of the mysterious desert I had 
so long admired from the Midland Railway. Like a child 
admitted to some enchanted garden, I broke from my 
soldier-guide, to rush up and down the heaps of ashes, 
thrilled with excitement, sketching the forlorn ruins from 
every point of view, and accumulating a precious series of 
notes on this veritable Yorkshire Campagna. Once, in my 
absorption, I sat down on a boulder by the waterside, but 
jumped up again quickly; the lump of gray slag was 
burning-hot. 

The material for my picture could not, unfortunately, be 
gathered in these romantic solitudes. The subject had to 
include some active industrial life, and I found it finally in 
a vast tangle of new girders and chimneys with a sluggish 
river below. In the actual painting this tangle was sil 
houetted against a clear sky, in Japanese fashion. To the 
supervising critic it appeared too Japanese : more realism 
was suggested, and introduced, with the result that the whole 
looks messy, photographic and feeble. At about the same 
time a second and smaller picture, recording a night alarm 
at Sandringham, was painted for the War Museum. 

My wife's musical energies were naturally interrupted by 
the conditions of the time, and their effect upon the needs 
of growing children, but in January 1918 she composed and 
produced a little musical play on the e AH-Baba' theme, her 
first experiment, I think, in this vein. Our two boys with 
sundry school-fellows, one or two of whom have since made 
the stage their profession, gave us a lively performance ; a 
refreshing contrast to the solemnity of 'The Children of 

332 



1916-1918] THE NATIONAL GALLERY 

Don,' the single opera I remember hearing during these 
years of anxiety. 

Amusements, indeed, were few. Lord Ribblesdale asked 
me to Gisburne to see some of his pictures and, finding that 
I was a fisherman, insisted on my borrowing his outfit and 
going down to the E ibble. Engulfed in his huge brogues and 
waders I waddled thither with difficulty, but his Hardy rod 
was a dream. Never before or since have I handled such an 
exquisite weapon: it seemed to divine by instinct one's 
every thought. 

A small sensation was caused by the report from our 
practical wood-expert, that a well-known fifteenth-century 
Madonna and Child was painted on a panel of American bass- 
wood or butternut. Since Eerenson had made this picture 
one of the keystones in his reconstruction of Florentine art 
history, it was quietly withdrawn from exhibition. Berenson 
came from Italy in the autumn of 1918 to discuss it, but 
science required several years of repeated investigation 
before deciding that the wood was 450 years old and not 50. 
The Macnab, by Raeburn, next provided excitement. Lord 
Curzon hoped that Mrs. Ronald Greville would be able to 
buy it for the Nation : a gentleman from the North offered 
us 25,000 for it and a baronetcy; Lord Dewar finally 
secured it for 24,300. It was no supreme loss. The old 
gentleman is not standing quite securely: a mere push 
would send him over. 

Then came the news that Bellini's Bacchanal was actually 
sold and was at Sulley's in Bond Street. Having been 
freshly cleaned, it looked brilliant. Every detail showed 
clearly, and I was delighted to find, with a magnifying glass, 
that the inscription read proudly, JOANNES BELLINUS IN- 
VICTUS FECIT (he was nearly ninety when he painted it), 
instead of the traditional and commonplace VENETUS. Mr. 
Austen Chamberlain, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, 
came to see it, but, with the Railway Strike and other signs 
of unrest about him, he did not feel justified in advancing 
the reduced, but still considerable, sum which Mr. Wert- 

333 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1916-1918 

helmer and Mr. Sulley had agreed with me to accept. 
'You will admit that the robbers have not been unduly 
compensated/ was the latter gentleman's characteristic 
comment. So, in spite of the fact that the picture had been 
painted as a companion piece to our Bacchus and Ariadne, 
we had to let it go to Philadelphia. 

At first we found it exceedingly hard even to get a sight 
of the pictures which passed through the London market. 
The dealers generally were shy of exposing their treasures 
to the long-drawn discussions, the rumours, the semi- 
publicity and the almost inevitable refusal to which offers 
of pictures for purchase had been exposed under the old 
system at Trafalgar Square. To restore confidence was far 
from easy. c No one ever thinks of offering pictures to you,* 
one prominent dealer told me. Others., apparently, thought 
us imbeciles. That I should be asked 50,000 by a dealer 
for a dull primitive, - which he was thankful, years later, to 
sell for some 2000, argued, perhaps, more ignorance on 
his part than impudence. But what was one to say when 
a genial old friend, who was anything but ignorant, calmly 
suggested 10,000 as the price for something in his collec 
tion which was really worth about 2000: and he 'com 
promised ' eventually on the latter basis ! 

One cerebral, or physiological, experience perhaps 
deserves a record. When Blake's famous illustrations to 
Dante were needed for the Tate Gallery, Baker and I went 
through them at Christie's, one morning before lunch, 
selecting those which we admired most, and getting keenly 
excited. The next day we proposed to review our opinion 
and selection, since the sum involved was considerable. 
Before doing so, we deliberately treated ourselves to as good 
a lunch as the straits of the time permitted, with the idea 
that the drawings would be "enhanced by splendours re 
flected from our food and drink. We were completely dis 
illusioned. The artificial stimulus had so heightened our 
perceptions that we viewed everything with coldly critical 
eyes. Hardly a third of the number we had previously 

334 



1916-1918] THE NATIONAL GALLERY 

admired (they still retained a relative excellence) could 
stand the post-prandial test. c Never trust your eye when 
you are feeling hungry/ would seem the obvious moral. Is 
that, I wonder, why successful dealing is commonly allied 
with good living? 

A spark of mild adventure enlivened this drab official 
routine. Early in March 1918, while I was bargaining with 
Roger Fry for a little painting, now attributed to Butinone, 
he brought me a catalogue of the pictures collected by Degas 
which were shortly to be sold in Paris. The collection 
included several notable works by Ingres, Delacroix and 
other French masters, unrepresented at Trafalgar Square 
yet badly needed to illustrate the development of modern 
art. Though I wholly agreed with Fry as to their extreme 
desirability, I could see no chance at that critical time of 
getting any money for such a venture. But one of Fry's 
friends, Maynard Keynes, then a great power at the 
Treasury, was also roused by the opportunity, and said that 
if an official request were made for a Special Grant to 
acquire some of the pictures, he would back it. We were 
incurring, without question, enormous liabilities for our 
Continental allies: a few good French pictures would be 
worth more to us in the end than most of that dubious 
paper. Lord Curzon at once recognized the value of the 
suggestion, made the requisite application in Whitehall, and 
obtained a grant of 20,000. 

The next two days were spent in settling preliminaries of 
the journey with Geoffrey Fry at the Treasury, picking up 
wrinkles from my friend Mayer as to the methods of French 
auction-rooms, getting an introduction from my friend Car- 
stairs to Messrs. Knoedler's Paris branch, and polishing up 
my memory of Ingres and Delacroix. On the morning of 
March 24th I went with my wife to Charing Cross to meet 
the members of the International Financial Mission, under 
whose wing I was to travel. Mr. Austen Chamberlain was 
its chief, supported by Lord Buckmaster, Sir Alfred Booth, 
and other cheerful beings : the stalwart Paul Cravath repre- 

335 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1916-1918 

scnted America, a charming General Mola represented 
Italy, while Keynes, apparently, covered all Europe, though 
each of the allies had, I fancy, some special nominee. To 
this most friendly company Geoffrey Fry played the quiet 
efficient courier, its material needs being supplied no less 
efficiently by Berry, the Treasury factotum. 

A crossing in fine weather, with escorting destroyers and a 
silver airship watching overhead, gave us a refreshing start. 
At Boulogne realities began; and we stuffed ourselves at 
the buffet, knowing that we should get little else to eat for 
nearly twenty-four hours. As the train dawdled through 
the sunlit afternoon, it was hard, at first, to realize from an 
occasional wrecked house or scarred hillside, that we were 
on the edge of actual war. Gradually the sound of the guns 
rising and falling on our left increased, but not until we were 
all in our berths, at two the next morning, did our leisurely 
progress stop, at Amiens which the Germans were bombing. 
Only one bomb fell fairly close and made the carriage 
heave. Though the raid lasted for two hours, I was agree 
ably surprised to listen without an atom of fear. In London, 
with wife and children, or under the roof of the Gallery, 
impotence and anxiety combined to attack the nerves. But 
here I -was, at last, on a very feeble kind of active service : 
if the end should happen to come, it would no longer be 
that of a complete embusque. 

As we sauntered along once more next morning, the talk 
turned on the shells falling into Paris. Was a gun of the 
immense range which such shells required an engineering 
possibility? Finally CreU platform, crowded with refugees, 
and eagerly scanned newspapers containing no information, 
brought us back to realities ; confirmed by the first excited 
words which greeted us at 11.30 as we stepped on to the 
Paris platform, c Le canon n'a pas tire depuis neuf heures. 3 

Leaving my bag at the Crillon, and presenting my 
credentials to MM. Hamann and Davey at Knoedler's, I 
proceeded with Mr. Chamberlain and Keynes to Georges 
Petit's hot, crowded auction-room, to inspect, compare, 

336 



1916-1918] THE NATIONAL GALLERY 

value and mark my catalogue in preparation for the sale 
next day. Mr. Chamberlain was generally sympathetic, 
except in the case of a Greco which I wanted. To this he 
displayed a disconcerting dislike, saying in his impulsive, 
humorous way that if I bought it he would hesitate about 
signing the cheque. After dinner he asked some of us up 
to his room for a smoke, and there we met General Sykes, 
who gave us an interesting account of what he would do if 
he commanded the Air Force; as he was soon to do. The 
morning of the 2 6th was employed in getting coached by 
MM. Hamann and Davey, with whom, after lunch, I went 
to the sale-room and secured an unoccupied corner. 

The auctioneer puzzled me at first by disregarding entirely 
the catalogue order, beginning somewhere in the middle of 
the numbers, and dodging backwards and forwards at will. 
This it appeared was the French sale-room plan for giving 
minor lots the chance of being seen by the whole assembly, 
and keeping buyers alert. Gradually I got accustomed to 
his ways and voice, and to translating quickly quotations in 
francs to their approximate sterling equivalents. I even 
ventured to beguile the weary waiting by cautious bids for 
things I did not really want; such was the potency of 
impatience. Matters had droned on thus for a full hour, 
when, at three o'clock, a dull c Boom 3 sounded outside, as 
if a smallish bomb had dropped. c C'est le canon ' was heard 
on all sides, and people began to leave the room. Still the 
paintings did not appear. At 3.15 a second 'Boom ' showed 
that what we afterwards knew as Big Bertha had again got 
going. There was quite a considerable rush to the door, at 
least one prominent Paris dealer being among the fugitives. 

Then, at last, the important pictures came up before a 
much depleted assembly. By great good luck, one of the 
very finest, the Ingres portrait of M. de Norvins, did not 
appeal to the room so much as the painter's later and more 
oily products, so we secured it for about a third of the price 
we expected to pay. But the big Delacroix, Baron Schwiter, 
was not to be had so easily. As I went on bidding there 

337 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1916-1918 

came a stir, people stood up to look at me, and voices, 
'C'est pour le Louvre, Monsieur/ e Vous luttez contre le 
Louvre, Monsieur.' It was most unpleasant. Yet if I gave 
way for a moment to the clamour, the picture would be lost 
for good and all. Better face a little trouble now, than a 
permanent regret for funking. So we secured it. Over the 
other pleasant Delacroix, the Louvre was too strong for me. 
But we got the pieces of the big Execution of Maximilian by 
Manet, 1 as well as the luminous study, Mme Manet, with 
the cat on her lap, two small compositions by Ingres, the 
vivid little early landscape by Corot, which Degas kept 
hanging over his bed, and several other useful things. 

Returning in a cheerful mood to the Crillon, I was met 
by Geoffrey Fry, looking very white; c The Germans had 
broken through: the English, overwhelmed, were in re 
treat; though the French were fighting like tigers at Noyon, 
Paris was threatened ; anything might happen, the Govern 
ment may have to retire to Bordeaux.' At dinner we were 
comforted a little by news from the War Council at Versailles 
of the unified Command ; e Clemenceau is Generalissimo : 
Foch, Commander-in-Chief.' Hearing of our sale-room 
doings, a polite liaison officer volunteered to show us a fine 
private collection in the Avenue du Bois. 

It was after ten when we got there, and the owner was 
out, but a manservant ushered us into a little room plastered 
with paintings, and brought us whisky and soda. While 
we wandered about discussing the pictures, an unsuspected 
door opened and in walked the owner, a huge, suave central 
European with a cigar to match. Perhaps because I was 
from the National Gallery, and had been seen buying 
pictures, he gave me his first attention. But his wares were 
inferior to what we had just acquired ; he quickly found me 
unprofitable material, and turned to my companion, whose 
tastes were more modern. The modern pictures were down- 

1 M. Vollard in his recently published Recollections tells how this picture 
was originally cut up, and how the chief fragments were bought by Degas 
and pasted in position on a large canvas. 

338 



1916-1918] THE NATIONAL GALLERY 

stairs; so down we went to a great room hung with the 
latest products of Matisse and the like. Our host certainly 
had a way with him. By adroit compliments, 'You and I 3 
of course, know better/ he set about fanning my clever 
friend's enthusiasm to the purchasing point, by inducing 
a mood of confidence, of complacency, in which an under 
taking to buy became an essential sequel to the intellectual 
and artistic agreement established between two such superior 
beings. It was the most brilliant piece of diplomacy I ever 
witnessed ; such a salesman deserved such a palace. Indeed 
my friend confessed afterwards that he was only saved from 
rashness by recalling that he had spent all his spare money 
that very day on a charming work by Cezanne. As we 
walked away at last into the quiet moonlight I wondered, 
while hearing of the disastrous bickerings of the High Com 
mand, that no German planes came overhead. It was the 
night, I believe, that they made thirty-seven raids upon 
Abbeville. 

At Knoedler's the next morning, it appeared that no 
packing-cases for my purchases could be had for love or 
money. The great packing-case, magnate of Paris finally 
came, top-hatted and frock-coated, with two assistants in 
blue blouses, to explain with much bowing and hand-waving 
that the thing was impossible. Could a French man of 
business refuse money? I offered 250 francs for a case to 
take the big Manet and Delacroix, with delivery at the 
Gare du Nord at 10 P.M. The bait was taken. The other 
pictures would all have to come out of their frames and be 
packed in bundles. Lunch at the Embassy followed, Lord 
Bertie grimly regretting, as he gave me the blank cheque 
for my picture bill, that I couldn't include with it 1200 
for his fine inlaid escritoire, which he feared the Germans 
might appreciate, or destroy. From the Embassy we went 
again to the sale-rooms, but our luck had changed. 

We were outbidden for all the good paintings, including 
the aforesaid Greco, a Perronneau and the best examples of 
Gauguin. I was too far from the easel to see distinctly the 

339 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1916-1918 

drawings set upon it. In consequence I got, by mistake, 
several that I did not care for, in addition to some that 
were useful. The prices however were not so high as to 
make one or two slips a serious matter. Over the Greco I 
made a quick mental compromise between Mr. Chamber 
lain's dislike, the needs of Trafalgar Square, and Knoedler's 
wish to get the picture if I failed to do so. It was a small 
version of the San Ildefonso at Illescas. I determined to bid 
only up to about 3000, and having done so in vain, told 
M. Hamann he could continue. He got the picture at the 
very next bid, and we could not grudge him the success ; he 
had been so magnificently helpful and unselfish in enabling 
us to get almost all we wanted at the cost of about half 
our .grant. Big Bertha, by the way, broke down again after 
those two timely discharges, and fired no more till we had 
left Paris. 

When everything was cleared we carried back our spoils 
to Knoedler's, and there we all went down on the floor, 
Hamann, Davey, Keynes, the typist and myself, wrestling 
with waterproof paper and string and tacks and pincers, till 
the pictures and drawings were made up into portable 
packages. Hamann and Davey were entertained and 
thanked at the Gallon 5 * then we packed ourselves off to the 
train. There was a general exodus from Paris. Means of 
transit were uncertain even for the wealthy. The Inter 
national Mission was fortunate in having a carriage in the 
northbound train, although, if the German advance con 
tinued, our journey might not end in Boulogne. At the Gare 
du Nord the huge case was waiting for us, but the stubborn 
luggage clerk would not pass it, even though a kindly liaison 
officer explained its International importance. The clerk 
insisted on having the monster solemnly weighed, and gave 
me a ticket which I still possess. The case was passed, as 
the personal luggage of the seventeen members of the 
International Mission, and the charge for excess weight was 
10 centimes. 

Next morning, just as I was rescuing my only tie from the 

340 



1916-1918] THE NATIONAL GALLERY 

wash-basin, the imperturbable Berry appeared with my 
breakfast a roll, a stick of chocolate and half a tumbler of 
Sauterne, on a piece of greasy brown paper. I put the lot 
on my bunk. 'Please/ said Berry, 'may I have the paper 
back, it's Mr. Chamberlain's tablecloth.' The Germans were 
within nine miles of Amiens. Yet the sound of the guns was 
actually less than when we had passed through before, and 
nothing interrupted our leisurely progress, though the 
opposite track carried one endless procession of trucks with 
men, stores and cannon filing past us to the Front. Mr. 
Chamberlain inspected a few of the more accessible pur 
chases ; Lord Buckmaster talked pleasantly of trout-fishing ; 
Keynes and Cravath of interest payments. I could not help 
asking whether America would not soon possess all the gold 
in the world, while Europe would only have paper? How 
then could the interchange of goods continue unless in some 
way the gold and the paper were made equivalent? That, 
it seemed, was a matter for Commerce, not for High Finance. 

At Boulogne, in drizzling rain, Booth and others helped 
me valiantly with my bundles and, commandeering a hand 
cart, wheeled my great case over the cobbles to our boat. 
How to get the thing aboard I knew not. Spying, however, 
a personage on the deck, resplendent in gold lace, I called 
out 'Mission Internationale' and waved a fifty-franc note. 
The spell worked like magic. The monster was duly hoisted 
aboard, and stacked in comparative shelter, while the 
bundles were piled in a cabin where one or two foreign 
members of the Mission already lay supine, prepared for 
the worst. 

Our convoy included two camouflaged hospital ships, and 
their disembarkation kept us tossing for an hour or more 
outside Folkestone. Though it was a roughish crossing, I 
never felt one touch of sea-sickness, being much too anxious 
lest a German mine or torpedo should catch us at the very 
last minute, and send all my precious purchases to the 
bottom. The railway van at Folkestone proved too small 
for the famous case; it had to follow by the next train, while 

34 1 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1916-1918 

I, sharing in a weird meal of coffee and tinned tongue, took 
on my bundles to a darkened London. Having deposited 
them, and rested a little at the Club, I routed out an un 
willing Deputy Station-master with the magical authority 
of c International Mission/ and secured a sufficient handcart, 
four porters and two lanterns, to await the coming of my 
case. It came : we all moved off in solemn procession to 
Trafalgar Square, and there at 1 1.20 P.M. I was able to leave 
it in comparative safety. When the Audit office demanded 
vouchers for the 4, igs. which the transport had cost me, 
aU I could produce was that lo-centime ticket. On Good 
Friday, when the revived Big Bertha killed some two hundred 
people in Paris, I got away to Appleby. 

Lord Curzon sent me e 1000 congratulations 3 ; the Board 
accepted even the Gauguin I had bought; we all thanked 
Knoedler's for their invaluable help; and then our good 
fortune tempted the making of a similar effort at the sale of 
works by Degas himself. Eric Maclagan, being now in 
Paris, could represent both the National Art-Collections 
Fund and the Modern Foreign Gallery; Lord Curzon 
secured a grant of 3000, and with Aitken, MacColl, Keynes 
and myself spent the best part of a week in preparing a plan 
of campaign. But this time the luck went against us. Prices 
were rather high ; the pictures we most fancied were fancied 
also by the Louvre, and the brief telegraphed instructions 
did not provide for any swift change of policy amid the 
confusion and accidents of a Paris sale-room. A portrait for 
the National Art -Collections Fund was the only booty 
secured. 

This matter had a troublesome sequel. In October, Lord 
Curzon called my attention to a paragraph in a weekly 
paper, imputing the negative result to his interference and 
lack of taste. I wrote at once to c Sardonyx, ' the author of 
the paragraph (who proved to be Arnold Bennett) en 
deavouring, by a statement of the facts, to show him that 
the charge was unjustified, and ought to be withdrawn. 
Withdrawal I failed to obtain; indeed the first paragraph 

342 



1916-1918] THE NATIONAL GALLERY 

was followed by another which, in the guise of a half-apology, 
managed to be still more offensive. I was much vexed, not 
only by the unfairness of the attack, but by the distress that 
a thing, so paltry in itself, had evidently caused Lord Curzon, 
much harassed as he was at the moment by war problems. 
With this personal sympathy was allied some official anxiety, 
lest he should be so discouraged by the outcome of a genuine 
wish to help us that he would think twice before repeating it. 
The attack was clearly mere political mud-spattering, and, 
having been kept informed of my correspondence, Lord 
Curzon himself came, in the end, to the same conclusion. 
"You have been very kind, 5 said he, so I judged that no 
permanent harm was done. 

Armistice Day coincided with my fiftieth birthday. I had 
been honoured some months earlier by election, at Lord 
Dillon's instance, as F.S.A. ; my pictures and drawings still 
had a tiny circle of admirers, and in little more than two 
years quite amicable relations had been established with the 
majority of the Board at Trafalgar Square. Nor, apart from 
my own fear of too much good fgrtune, did I lack warning 
as to the other side of the picture. As Ricketts remarked one 
evening at Lansdowne Road, 'Everyone is dying to see you 
make a little mistake. 3 

This, no doubt, was partly my own fault. I might have 
paid my contemporaries the compliment of consulting them 
more often. But natural impatience and love of going my 
own way were not all to blame. Collins Baker and I had 
no assistant to whom we could delegate critical business. 
The Cabinet secretarial system brought about a multiplica 
tion of official documents and memoranda, to be read, 
circulated and answered. The Gallery business in itself, at 
this troubled period, kept us so constantly on the run, that 
we had to deal in summary fashion with questions which, if 
once submitted to others, would have involved discussions, 
differences, delays. These last we simply could not afford 
if the day's work was to be done. Were it ever left undone, 
we knew we should be brought to book quickly enough. So 

343 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1916-1918 

the habit of relying upon ourselves, and paying but per 
functory attention to outsiders of infinite leisure, became 
ingrained. Moreover, when the Board in January 1919 
elected Lord Lansdowne to be their permanent Chairman, 
we were provided with an authority to whom all important 
questions had to be referred. The new arrangement rele 
gated the Director to a definitely subordinate place. This 
was no fatal disadvantage, but the resultant duality of 
control might easily have involved administrative diffi 
culties, had not Lord Lansdowne's strict sense of constitu 
tional propriety kept the balance even, for the time being. 



344 



CHAPTER XVIII 
PERSONAL DIVERSIONS 

(1919-1925) 

Thoughts on public affairs ; the Westminster Play ; the Irish 
Settlement ; the Chequers Trust ; honours ; at Norwich and 
Cambridge ; Leonardo da Vinci ; book on the National 
Gallery ; France and Spain ; expert evidence in Paris and 
Holland ; the N.E.A.C. ; the Grosvenor Gallery and the 
R.W.S. ; my wife's music ; social experiences ; fishing on the 
Eden and the Windrush. 

THE background to our activities now lacked neither colour 
nor variety. Foch and Clemenceau, Haig and Plumer, 
President and Mrs. Wilson passed in triumph by our 
Gallery windows ; Lawrence of Arabia impressed me by his 
fierce self-restraint ; Royal and other personages began once 
more to visit Trafalgar Square. None of them really seemed 
so interesting as President Wilson. He might look like a 
complacent, doctrinaire schoolmaster, yet he stood for 
things immeasurably greater than himself. It was the 
unique moment when the co-operation of America with 
England might make the world fit for cowards like myself 
to live in. Believing her to be actuated by our own wish to 
help humanity, we were bitterly disappointed, and perhaps 
unreasonably, when she repudiated her President and the 
undertakings he had given on his country's behalf. 

At the moment, we were inclined to blame 'The Eco 
nomic Consequences of the Peace' for the mischief. I 
remember how its untimely display of the President as the 
plaything of more lively wits moved even the gentle Lord 
Plymouth to indignation. But a decision endorsed by a 
huge, remote populace, whose local, party and personal 
prejudices were on a par with their inexperience of inter 
national affairs, could not have been materially affected by 

345 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1919-1925 

a few paragraphs in a semi-technical book. Anyhow, the 
effect of such a gran rifiuto upon the moral influence of the 
United States was immediate, and all the more profound 
from its contrast to the high ideals and solemn authority 
by which the President's pledges had apparently been 
backed. So, in a single moment, America lost the con 
fidence of Europe and the leadership of the world. Her 
subsequent refusal to cancel out international debts caused 
comparatively little surprise. It was only another bad 
commercial miscalculation, as much regretted by the best 
and wisest elements in the United States as it was in 
England. 

Meanwhile the claims and performances of sundry states 
men and politicians "diverted the public. As usual, the 
Epilogue to the Westminster Play aptly summed up the 
feeling of the time. Several frock-coated gentlemen ap 
peared, disputing volubly as to which of them had really 
won the War. A helmeted private soldier, who had watched 
the talkers in silence, was suddenly asked, 'Quid tu fecisti? * 
His reply, c Nil ego. Miles eram, 5 fairly brought down the 
house. Indeed, as the next Epilogue put it, some of the 
folly of that period was e ipsissima margo.' For these 
fescennine pleasantries I was indebted to my elder son 
Martin, then a Westminster Scholar, and a not unsuccessful 
writer of the Epigrams with which, by tradition, the West 
minster curriculum is agreeably diversified. In the precincts 
of the Abbey, such customs, which would have delighted 
More and Erasmus, seem appropriate still. 

What with food troubles, money troubles, general unrest 
in the world of Labour, strikes on the Tube, the Railways, 
and in the Coal industry, we were always kept anxious, and 
sometimes made uncomfortable. Ruinous as these disputes 
might be, they never roused quite the same bitterness as 
the guerilla warfare in Ireland, and the spasmodic irresolu 
tion with which it was handled. * Tyrone is as safe as walk 
ing down Piccadilly,* said one responsible optimist to me: 
the same who encouraged our forces there with, 'Take my 

346 



1919-1925] PERSONAL DIVERSIONS 

word for it ; the British Government will back you through 
thick and thin/ just two days before the Truce was made 
which left those forces impotent. 

c Tales of the R.I.C./ first published in 'Blackwood's 
Magazine/ drew so grim a picture of the situation that I felt 
it must be an exaggeration of the facts. Happening to meet 
at dinner an officer who had been through the thick of the 
trouble, I ventured to ask his opinion of the book. c Dam 
badly written, but every word of it is true/ was the reply; 
the more significant because the book was not badly written, 
far from it. Assassins and spies at our very doors, with such 
savageries as the Dublin murders, left a deeper impression 
than even the German brutalities. A few days before the 
Truce, and the talks which led to the Irish Treaty, these 
preoccupations brought on a dream so curious that I can't 
help telling it. 

I found myself at a meeting of the Chequers Trustees. 
The place and persons present remain vague, but the object 
of our summons was to protect Mr. Lloyd George from 
being assassinated. To guide the Police in arranging their 
patrols, the large-scale plan of the Chequers estate, mounted 
'on rollers four or five feet long, had been deposited at 
Scotland Yard. But the precautions taken were insuffi 
cient; suspicious strangers had appeared in the Chequers 
grounds. The Prime Minister had faced the intruders boldly 
enough, and they had retired without doing him damage, 
but the Trustees would clearly have to consider more 
effective means of defence. The Police were asked to 
explain their failure ; the great Plan was sent for, and lo ! 
it had been stolen from Scotland Yard. Even that citadel 
of our civic security was held by the forces of Sinn Fein ! 
What the shadowy meeting decided, if it decided anything, 
I don't in the least remember : but the proclamation of the 
Truce a few days later seemed to follow quite naturally. 

The dream must have been inspired by one of Mr. 
Chesterton's pleasant inventions, where the arch-criminal 
finally reveals himself as the supreme detective, but the 

347 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1919-1925 

matter of it was unusually vivid and reasonable. As a rule 
my dreams are vague, mostly connected with fishing and, 
if I may judge from the black shapes of corruption that I 
catch, the result of vulgar indigestion. Only once or twice 
have I found myself wading in the shallows of unknown 
lakes, and taking a few genuine dream-trout weighing about 
three to the pound. My monster fish are, alas ! confined to 
the two which I hooked in the Windrush and failed to get 
out of it. As to the Police : I once sat next to the Chief 
Commissioner at a Royal Academy Banquet. His presence, 
for some reason, made the wine waiter so nervous that I 
heard him murmur in the great man's ear, as he handed the 
champagne, 'Rumm or Moederer, sir? 5 

When the present Lord and Lady Lee were making their 
wonderful gift of Chequers to the Prime Minister, the 
Director of the National Gallery was appointed an ex-qfficio 
Trustee, to look after the collection of pictures in the house. 
Baker and I paid more than one visit to the delightful old 
place, providing the materials for a catalogue which Lord 
Lee subsequently revised and printed. We marvelled, then, 
that the owners could bear to part, in their lifetimes, with 
such a perfect haven of peace. Even the bequest of it would 
have been a princely gesture. 

The discussion of preliminaries, including the Bill which 
defines the terms of the Trust, took me to Downing Street, 
where I saw for the first time Mr. Lloyd George surrounded 
by the chief members of the Cabinet. From my lowly place 
at the end of the big table, I noticed the profound deference 
which all, even Lord Curzon, showed to him as he sat there 
smiling, at ease and alert ; a master whose merest nod was 
the crack of a whip. Suddenly a head peeped in through 
the French window that opened upon the little garden. It 
was Mr. Bonar Law. He was gaily invited to enter, and 
took a seat, still smoking his curly pipe, by the side of the 
Prime Minister; the one man in all the company who 
seemed completely at ease in that vigilant presence. He 
was ready enough, too. When I got into trouble over 

348 



1919-1925] PERSONAL DIVERSIONS 

interpreting a clause in the Bill which had caused some 
difficulty, Mr. Bonar Law came to my help and, summing 
up my argument in one homely phrase, carried the business 
through. 

It was amusing to see Mr. Lloyd George, on the strength 
of his own professional experience, challenge and confute 
the Lord Chief Justice (Sir Rufus Isaacs, now Lord Reading) 
over a point of law. Not so amusing, however, was the next 
meeting, when the Prime Minister suddenly asked me a 
question about the rating of the National Gallery. I 
answered it flippantly and I answered it wrong. But before 
the foolishness was out of my mouth, his instinct marked 
me for a silly fellow, and, he turned away to speak to some 
one at the other end of the table. It was clear enough why 
all the others stood in awe of that uncanny thought-reading. 

At the close of the meeting I recovered a little of my 
credit, but at a cost. My attention was called to a portrait 
over the mantelpiece which an influential member of the 
Cabinet, hitherto most friendly to me, had offered to present, 
so that Walpole might be represented at Downing Street. 
Walpole, Mr. Lloyd George added, was, in his opinion, the 
greatest of British Prime Ministers, and ought to have this 
place of honour in the Cabinet Room. Was the picture 
the right thing? Alas ! Alas ! The painting was good 
enough, but the sitter was not Walpole. He was, appa 
rently, the first Lord Lyttelton. I was, of course, compelled 
to say so, at the risk of displeasing the donor, who was 
present and warmly disputed my judgment. 'Are you 
certain?' asked Mr. Lloyd George. 'Yes.' 'Well, that 
settles it. We don't want Lord Lyttelton here, 3 and the 
matter ended, so far as Walpole was concerned. 

Mr. Ramsay MacDonald's quiet ways surprised me. From 
his pre-war reputation I had expected a firebrand. At the 
single meeting during his first Premiership, I was as pleased 
to see him turn down a proposal from a too clever friend 
that he should profit, in some small matter, at his prede 
cessor's expense, as to watch Mr. Snowden putting up a 

349 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1919-1925 

vigorous fight for the Exchequer over some question of 
rating, or the like. Such sharp common sense was refreshing 
at a time when many members of the Labour Government 
inspired anything but confidence. 

To me Mr. Ramsay MacDonald was always most friendly 
and considerate, genuinely interested in art, and gifted with 
that supreme grace, a sly sense of fun. At a cheerful little 
private dinner I once ventured, rather impudently, to have 
a dig at him. He took not the least offence, laughed with 
the rest, and bided his time till the conversation turned 
upon our Foreign Policy. This fascinated him, and he 
remarked that, if ever he were again returned to office, 
he would like to hold the Foreign Secretaryship together 
with the Premiership. To combine them would present no 
insuperable difficulty in these days ; the Foreign Office was 
so perfectly organized, c one might almost be at the National 
Gallery! 3 

I visited Chequers again in Mr. Baldwin's time, but my 
chief memory is not of the pleasant luncheon, but of a talk 
on the terrace with Eric Maclagan. He had recently been 
staying with some of the Buxton family, who possessed a 
lake containing trout. For these they were accustomed to 
fish, but only with barbless hooks. The moment a fish had 
been brought to the net, the fly -was gently removed, and 
the captive, as gently, returned to the water. The trout 
had now become quite accustomed to this humanitarian 
sport, and seemed to enjoy as much as their captors the 
game of being fished for, played and landed. 

As already mentioned, I had recently been elected a 
Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, an unworthy one I 
fear, for my work lay in a different field. Now, in spite of 
even greater unsuitability, of which I made no secret, I 
was invited by Archdeacon Spooner to join the Committee 
of the Clergy Orphan Corporation. This at least enabled 
me to see what immense improvements had been made 
since my own schooldays; how carefully and how gener 
ously each new requirement was considered and provided. 

350 



1919-1925] PERSONAL DIVERSIONS 

St. Margaret's at Bushey, under Miss Boys, had been famous 
for some time. St. Edmund's at Canterbury appeared 
equally happy, and hardly less comfortable, under Canon 
Burnside, his engaging family, and a group of exceptionally 
keen masters. The Committee clearly knew its business 
thoroughly. It needed no help from outside, so I took the 
first opportunity of returning to work for which I was less 
ill-adapted. 

In the summer of 1931 I received the honour of knight 
hood, my kind sponsors being Sir Philip Sassoon and Lord 
Curzon. The latter, fresh from his Marquisate, wrote that 
his satisfaction was c more than trebled when the paper told 
me I had been successful in pulling you in too. I had 
spoken personally to the P.M. about it. But he is a fugitive 
sort of bird, and I could not be certain till the end/ The 
honour was greatly enhanced for my wife and myself by 
the personal kindness of the King and the Queen in receiving 
us semi-privately at Buckingham Palace. 

In the autumn I was given the opportunity of putting 
forward two other names for honours. One of them had 
already been the subject of a ponderous memorial, singularly 
ill-adapted to its purpose, as it seemed to me when I signed 
it and as the event proved. But the merits of the case were 
so evident that a simple statement of them was now quite 
enough to secure the desired result. The other statement, 
equally simple, did not fare so well. It led indeed to an 
interview, and to the offer of a baronetcy, but on terms 
which my startled acquaintance, who had done good public 
service for years and years, promptly and rather indignantly 
declined. Shortly afterwards these concomitants of 'recog 
nition 5 attracted public notice and, by general consent, 
were rendered impossible. 

Two months earlier, great preparations had been made 
at Norwich to celebrate the centenary of John Crome by an 
Exhibition of his works. Everything was done that local 
patriotism could do to make the occasion worthy of their 
famous citizen. The National Gallery consented, for once, 

35 J 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1919-1925 

to lend some notable specimens of his work ; the opening 
ceremony was to be performed by the Prince of Wales. 
I was due to say a few words afterwards about Crome as 
an artist. Just a day or two before the event, I was asked 
to lunch by Sir Philip Sassoon and introduced to the Prince. 
It was a time of considerable unrest in the Labour world ; 
the Prince would have to stay in London to be at the centre 
of things, and I must take his place at the opening ceremony. 
There was no questioning that decision, but alas! Poor 
Norwich ! All their decorations and preparations would be 
wasted. However, my wife and I duly travelled down; 
were received and entertained by our friends the Gurneys ; 
I walked, a sorry, shabby substitute, in the Lord Mayor's 
state procession, and made the necessary speech. This part 
of the business, at least, I could do con amore, having always 
had a great admiration for Crome, and liking for his ancient 
city and the scenery round it. 

For sheer pomp and circumstance, nothing, I think, 
equalled the conferring of an Honorary Doctorate at Cam 
bridge in the summer of 1924. This honour pleased me for 
the pleasure it gave to my kind uncle Granville Dickson, an 
old Trinity man, who had greatly admired my father, and 
now, in spite of his advanced age 3 came specially to Cam 
bridge for the occasion. After seeing the new galleries at 
the Fitzwilliam Museum, which Dunbar Smith had designed, 
most ingeniously, for Cockerell, and after a luncheon at 
King's, our red-robed procession, headed by the Chancellor, 
Lord Balfour, and including the other Doctors-designate, 
the Duke of Rutland, Lord Crawford and D. G. Hogarth, 
marched over the greensward in the sunshine, past my 
father's old college of Clare, towards a gate in a big iron 
railing. Beyond it a great crowd waited for us. But the 
gate was locked, and nobody could find the key. So right 
about turn our august procession had to go, and reach the 
Senate House by some inglorious by-way. 

To flaunt about the place in robes for the rest of the day 
was an experience gratifying to vanity. Never had Cam- 

352 



1919-1925] PERSONAL DIVERSIONS 

bridge looked so attractive; even its stucco lodging-houses 
seemed to lose their drabness in that cheerful sunshine. But 
all the while there loomed a shadow in the background. I 
was due to make a speech that evening at a grand dinner in 
Trinity. Nor was my anxiety lessened when I found myself 
placed immediately on Lord Balfour's right. Yet the un 
common charm of his table-talk gradually brought me some 
relief, and his charitable 'Well done! 5 when I sat down 
carried me through the rest of the evening. The finale, too, 
seemed appropriate, for I spent the night with Dr. Shipley 
at Christ's, the very college at which, thirty-seven years 
earlier, I had so signally failed to get an Exhibition. 

Literary labours had restarted in the spring of 1919 with 
the composing of an address to the British Academy, to 
celebrate the Quatercentenary of Leonardo da Vinci. 
Though quite short, the lecture cost me four months 3 hard 
work. The infinite curiosity of Leonardo's intellect com 
pelled research into subjects like anatomy, of which I knew 
nothing, and into other sciences, of which I knew very little. 
His geological discoveries, in particular, fascinated me by 
their startling anticipation of the modern standpoint, and 
explained much of the mystery surrounding this side of 
Leonardo's life. Had he dared to publish his knowledge of 
the immensity of geological time, he must have been de 
nounced and punished as an arch-heretic, tampering with 
the very foundations of faith. When my little hour of 
lecturing at Burlington House was over, I had, at Dr. 
Seward's request, to discuss before the Geological Society 
this part of Leonardo's discoveries, including his account of 
fossilization, a piece of true scientific deduction which even 
a Darwin or a Huxley could hardly have bettered. 

Notes on some early Constable drawings, privately printed 
under the title of e Constable, Gainsborough and Lucas,' 
covered more familiar ground. A little later my own efforts 
at painting were discussed and illustrated by X. B. (C. H. 
Collins Baker), in one of a series of monographs on c Con 
temporary British Artists ' which Albert Rutherston edited. 

353 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1919-1925 

A shorter monograph, with some colour-reproductions, had 
been issued by the ' Studio ' in 1 920. My c Illustrated Guide 
to the National Gallery ' (1920-1921), and my share in 'The 
Making of the National Gallery' (1924), though based on 
official materials, and published by the Trustees, had of 
necessity to be written in non-official hours, and the success 
of the former prompted Mr. Bickers of George Bell and Sons 
to engage me in a much more elaborate work. 

This was to be a study of the National Gallery pictures, of 
a kind which would help the average educated person to 
understand the reasons for which each of them was to be 
admired, without involving him in the minutiae of critical 
controversy. With this general idea I was in complete 
sympathy. Specialization in criticism was fast sterilizing all 
interest in art, just as specialization in warfare was thought 
to be sterilizing leadership. A survey more general and less 
inhuman than current scholarship provided, was what the 
time seemed to require. Moreover, the national collection 
as a whole is so complete, that only occasional additions from 
outside (such as the chapter on Japan in the third volume) 
were needed to enlarge the book from a commentary upon 
particular works at Trafalgar Square into a History of 
Painting. The task occupied, burdened and enthralled me 
for some five years. 

The first volume, on the Italian Schools, caused little 
difficulty, being principally concerned with problems of 
Form, Design and Colour, over which I had often pondered 
in the course of my own attempts at painting. The second 
volume led to trouble. When dealing with the Dutch School, 
I had to face the problems presented by Light and by 
Realism. It was interesting, nay exciting, to trace the 
solutions which the great Dutchmen found ; but the interest, 
the excitement, transferred themselves unconsciously to my 
own practice, with unfortunate results. By endeavouring to 
graft these new realistic ideas upon the formal type of design 
which I had hitherto favoured, I got almost as thoroughly 
muddled between the claims of Art and of Nature, as I had 

354 



1919-1925] PERSONAL DIVERSIONS 

been thirty years earlier when starting to paint in my Cowley 
Street lodgings. Indeed, I attribute the decline in breadth 
and simplicity which my painting soon began to show, 
chiefly to theories expounded in that fatal second volume. 
In themselves these theories were sound enough, appropriate 
to Dutch painting., and in some respects original ; but they 
did not suit my own limited range of subject-matter and 
still more limited powers of execution. Two journeys on 
the Continent helped to distract attention still further from 
the hills and industries of the North which had hitherto 
inspired me. 

My lively aunt. Miss Holmes, had wintered for many years 
either in Italy or upon the Riviera. She was now too old 
and frail to pay another visit to England, so, in 1921, I went 
out to see her at Mentone. This tour enabled me to visit 
the principal museums in the south and east of France, and 
left some still sharper impressions : rainstorms and clouds 
over the Alpes Maritirnes, a rare pint of Chateauneuf du 
Pape at Lyons (where the inhabitants delight in misdirecting 
strangers), the cliff-like walls of the Papal Palace, Enguer- 
rand Charenton at Villeneuve, the squalor of Aries, the 
Maison Carree glowing like a jewel in sunlit Nimes, and, 
most of all perhaps, the amazing supply of picturesque 
material in the neighbourhood of Marseilles. Spain, three 
years later, proved even more disturbing, with the almost 
incredible pinnacles and gorges near Miranda, the snow-clad 
Guadarramas (in places oddly reminiscent of the Pennines), 
and the grim scenery round the EscoriaL These impressions 
I tried to utilize ; but only two or three times, in a sketch of 
the Guadarramas belonging to Mr. Curnow Vosper, in 
another of the Alpes Maritimes, and in a painting of the 
Escorial, did I come near to satisfying myself. The failures 
were many and bad. 

Twice I went abroad as a sort of expert. The first journey 
was to Paris, for a couple of days. An action had been 
brought against the present Lord Duveen for venturing to 
say that an American lady's version of La Belle Ferronniere in 

355 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1919-1925 

the Louvre was not an original by Leonardo da Vinci. 
Roger Fry, Martin Conway, Schmidt-Degener, Dr. Laurie, 
besides myself, having been asked to testify to that simple 
proposition, were solemnly accorded a private view of the 
rival ladies, set side by side; magnifying glasses, big and 
little, were brought to bear upon them ; consultations with 
the lawyers followed. When I was cross-examined for some 
three hours by Mr. Ririgrose, the clever American counsel 
for the plaintiff, a picturesque Paris journalist described me 
as c pale. mordillant sa moustache. 3 There was reason for 
being a little nervous. I had left my spectacles behind in 
London, and should have been floored if Mr. Ringrose had 
handed me any document to read. 

The second journey was to Holland, to provide evidence 
for the Dutch High Court in the matter of a disputed Frans 
Hals. It was a very clever little painting, at first sight 
above suspicion. But examination with a strong glass 
betrayed a grain of synthetic ultramarine in the background ; 
a microscope at Delft proved other pigments to be relatively 
modern; an X-ray photograph showed that the panel on 
which the portrait was painted had been fastened together 
with machine-made nails. So instructive was Professor 
Scheffer's examination at Delft, that I procured a micro 
scope for testing pigments at Trafalgar Square. Incidentally 
it was delightful to see Holland again ; to meet Martin, and 
Schmidt-Degener, Dr. Schneider and Willy Sluiter, and the 
rest of the cheerful art-circle there. Yet I could not help 
regretting the< absence of many picturesque, if insanitary, 
relics of the past which Cripps and I had seen in 1890, and 
which were now replaced by huge modern blocks of building, 
not always beautifal. I shall not forget the visit for another 
reason. It was in the hotel at The Hague that the proprietor 
brought me a Dutch evening paper containing the first news 
of Lord Curzon's last illness. 

During these years I dutifully accompanied the New 
English Art Club in its wanderings from the Galleries of the 
R.B.A. in Suffolk Street to those of the 'Old 5 Water Colour 

356 




2 ^ 






tn 2 

H Q 



PERSONAL DIVERSIONS 

Society in Pall Mall (1920)5 and from Pall Mall in 1925 to 
Spring Gardens, Southport, Manchester, and back to Spring 
Gardens, where it rested for two years before migrating, at 
the end of 1927, to the New Burlington Galleries. At 
Suffolk Street, I think, the Club reached the zenith of its 
fame. Steer, Tonks and their circle could always be relied 
upon ; John and Orpen, not yet carried away by the Royal 
Academy, formed a second nucleus, round which the younger 
generation could gather, and the critics could buzz. When 
the Club ceased to have that settled home, instability of 
residence produced instability in patronage. From being 
the holder of a strong fortress it became one of several 
artistic vagrants in the London wilderness. 

So far as actual sales were concerned, I found the 
Grosvenor Gallery and Messrs. Colnaghi more helpful. The 
Grosvenor, being central, accessible, of moderate size, 
charmingly decorated, well-lighted, and hung with care 
fully chosen pictures, gave the most pleasant exhibitions in 
London, and was popular with the intelligent part of 
Society. My products were never calculated to create a 
sensation, but with Mr. Yockney of the Grosvenor and 
Mr. Max Morris of Colnaghi's (not to mention their chief, 
Mr. Otto Gutekunst) they found favour, so that between 
1919 and 1925, more than a dozen paintings and some forty 
or fifty water-colours got sold. This total was helped by a 
show of drawings, chiefly Industrial subjects, at Carfax in 
1919; by the purchase, in the same year, by Lord Henry 
Bentinck, of a group of North-country sketches, now at 
Underley ; and by an exhibition of drawings at the Grosvenor 
Gallery in 1922. 

In the spring of 1924 I was elected an associate of the 
Royal Society of Painters in Water-Colours. Since the 
Catalogues of that genial Society, like those of the New 
English Art Club, will be accessible to the curious, I need 
not bore the reader with details of what I exhibited. One 
of my best paintings on a small scale, The Lonely Farm,, failed 
to find any purchaser for years, until it was discovered by 

357 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1919-1925 

Lord Henry Bentinck, and given a place of honour at 
Underley. Other favourites were Black Hill Moss (at Mel 
bourne) and Fells near Sedbergh (1920), Stormy Afternoon, Colby 
Lane (1921), A Farm in Winter (1922), Farmyard, Soberton 
(1924)3 and Snow Showers, Cross Fell (1925), which was 
rescued by MacEvoy from the studio rubbish heap to which 
I had consigned it. In retrospect, however, the quantity of 
the stuff produced interests me almost as much as its quality. 
Since my official work usually left me too slack or too busy 
to paint on Saturday afternoons, and since every alternate 
Sunday afternoon was spent at Richmond with my mother, 
the rest of the week-end must really have been rather 
strenuous. 

In 1920 we ended, for the time being, our household 
migrations by getting the remains of the lease of 19 Pern- 
bridge Gardens, a house in many ways convenient, though 
with only a small back-bedroom to serve for a studio. My 
operatic education meanwhile was being steadily enlarged, 
not only at Covent Garden, but at the Surrey Theatre, 
where an attempt to establish opera at popular prices gave 
us an introduction to the difficulties and the comedy of 
management. Memorable, too, was a hearing of c The 
Valkyrie,' my favourite opera, in the pit of the King's 
Theatre, Hammersmith; a family treat, with bananas to 
celebrate and chasten the eve of a preferment. At Covent 
Garden, the first performance of 'Rosenkavalier,' under Sir 
Thomas Beecham, provided the greatest thrill. The setting 
of the scene in which Oktavian trips up to present the rose 
was never afterwards equalled. The old settings, too, of 
'Gotterdammerung,' with all their defects, seemed incom 
parably better than our recent rationalized versions, where, 
at the catastrophic climax, Briinnhilde is not allowed to have 
her horse, there is no Valhalla to catch fire, and the collapse 
of the great hall is represented by a plank dropping from the 
roof of a cart-shed. 

My wife, for some years past, had been immersed in Indian 
art and history, while preparing and composing c Nur 

358 




LADY HOLMES 
(Photo: Elliot and Fry) 



1919-1925] PERSONAL DIVERSIONS 

Jahan/ the first of her full-sized operas. After some private 
or partial performances, this opera was produced in 1927, 
6 by kind permission/ at the Parry Memorial Theatre in the 
Royal College of Music. In the interval she composed a 
musical jest, c Dark Knights/ which was privately performed 
in 1924, and afterwards given for two crowded nights in 
1928 at c The Venture 3 in Portobello Road. There it was 
preceded by 'Roast Pig/ a fantasy based upon Charles 
Lamb's essay. Three or four concerts, at Steinway Hall, at 
the Serbian Legation by kind permission of the Serbian 
Minister and Madame Gavrilovitch, at Leighton House and 
at Mrs. Frank Gibson's, provided opportunities for 'trying 
out 3 other experiments in composition and orchestration. 
But for me the oddest sensation was caused by the composer's 
appearance at a Wimpole Street fancy-dress party as the 
Emperor Jahangir. So complete was the disguise that neither 
her sex nor her race, much less her identity, were recognized 
at first. I can still remember the look of utter amazement 
upon the face of our hostess-cousin as this grim, bejewelled 
apparition advanced from the doorway. Madame de 
Nevosky, a friendly Russian prima-donna, had lent for the 
occasion a magnificent collection of ornaments made in Paris 
for her appearance in c Alda/ so that the customary marks 
by which ladies recognize at a glance the transformations of 
their intimates were wanting on this occasion. Even I 
found it hard to believe that the sombre, dusky potentate, 
surrounded by those fresh, English faces, was not really an 
Oriental. 

But I am easily taken in. Before a lunch at St. James's 
with the ladies Gleichen, I was introduced to a trim-bearded 
gentleman in plus-fours. His name I did not catch, but he 
looked like the typical artist of the 'eighties in a Du Maurier 
drawing. At table he sat just opposite, and suddenly made 
such a jest as only one man known to me could make : it 
was the protean Walter Sickert. Had I myself been a born 
raconteur, or even conversationally pliable, I might have 
enjoyed to the full the social diversions to which I was now 

359 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1919-1925 

introduced. But in the presence of great or brilliant persons 
I become mute, either from respect for genius or from 
narrowness of experience. Other people seemed to know all 
the latest books, plays and films, as well as the celebrities, 
English or Parisian, who make Society. I had no time to 
read anything, see anything, or remember anybody outside 
my office, where any little intelligence I had was always 
needed, and used up. 

Nevertheless I received much kindness. Luxmoore asked 
me down to Eton, and showed me all that had recently been 
done there. As the guest of the Provost, I witnessed the 
celebration of Founder's Day, and nearly perished of cold 
through forgetting to pack proper underclothing. Discom 
fort of another kind occurred when I attended a big dinner 
with a bemedalled guest, where, owing to some mistake, we 
were allotted places next to the scullions. Worse, far worse, 
however, was the evening when, after a dinner at Stationers' 
Hall, I had walked round from my house to settle with a 
neighbour about a day's fishing. Returning, I was met in 
the road by an agitated Nannie. A telephone message had 
been received from a certain address. e The Queen had 
arrived and they had sat down to dinner without me. 
Would I please come along at once. 3 

I then remembered that, some ten days before, I had 
found myself seated at lunch next to a singularly pleasant 
lady, who had said something about my coming to meet 
one whom I judged to be some relative. Since no invita 
tion had arrived, the matter had gone out of my mind. 
Now there was nothing for it but to reform my dress as best 
I could, bundle into a taxi, and get to the house. Sure 
enough, in the drawing-room, there sat the Queen, looking 
magnificent, in the midst of a company whose stars and 
orders and knee-breeches made me more flustered than 
ever. Though the Queen and all the others were kindness 
itself to the lump of apologizing misery, he was too frightened 
to venture near the house again. 

Of other hosts, Lord Lascelles and Sir Philip Sassoon were 

360 



1919-1925] PERSONAL DIVERSIONS 

the most splendid. Sir Evan Charteris the most varied and 
catholic in his sympathies. At his table, Sargent and John, 
Charles Whibley, Mr. Winston Churchill and everyone else 
seemed completely at ease. One Saturday Mr. Churchill 
took me round to his studio to see his paintings. Like the 
little Professor I was, and remain, I could not help trying 
to teach him the value of a scale of tones in constructing a 
picture. But he, very naturally, preferred his own way of 
going ahead, hit or miss, trusting, as in his politics, to his 
exceptional gift for improvisation, his instinctive vigour. 
Inter alia he casually mentioned that his fine studio had been 
built with the proceeds of two magazine articles upon 
painting. 

Of great ladies, none attracted me so strongly and imme 
diately as Lady Rothschild. She possessed, and retained to 
the end, a serene blend of authority, shrewdness and gentle 
ness which reminded me of my grandmother, and one or 
two other venerable ladies of the mid- Victorian time, to 
whom obedience and affection were accorded automatically 
by everyone. In their gracious presence it was impossible 
to do otherwise. This distinction seemed to be something 
that was now more rare even than the superb Gainsborough 
paintings at Tring, or the remarkable sheet of paper which 
bears two autographs. The main part of the writing is a 
report from Buonaparte to the Directory of what he has done 
in Egypt, concluding, c Nous sommes ici dans Petat le plus 
satisfaisant, et maitres de tout le pays. 3 The letter was cap 
tured at the Battle of the Nile, and underneath Napoleon's 
signature are the words c Mark the end. Nelson.' 

The late Archbishop of Canterbury calls up similar 
memories. Regarded by many as merely an astute diplo 
matist, the real simplicity of his character was but gradually 
revealed. Dinners and parties at Lambeth might show him 
and kind Mrs. Davidson to advantage in their public 
capacity; conference might display his penetrating Judg 
ment, his practical wisdom; but his humanity and plain 
sincerity came out best in private. His simple ways could 

361 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1919-1925 

be almost embarrassing. He was profoundly interested in 
the collection of paintings at Lambeth, and frequently con 
cerned about the conditions of this portrait or that. I did 
not so much mind standing on the top of a tall folding step- 
ladder while the aged Primate held it steady, more or less, 
on the slippery parquet. But when he wanted to carry the 
ladder about for me from picture to picture it was necessary 
to protest. 

Entertainment of a different kind was provided at the 
Windham Club, by that redoubtable fisherman Mr. William 
Radcliffe. I came to know him through the controversy in 
the c Times/ as to the meaning of the Homeric 009 icepas, 
which followed the issue of his classic work, e Fishing from 
theEarliestTim.es. 3 In spite of Mr. RadclifFe's Balliol record, 
in spite of the authority of Dr. A. J. Butler, who in his 
c Sport in Classical Times ' has since made an intensive 
study of the Greco-Roman writers upon angling, I still 
maintain that no fisherman in his senses would attempt to 
attract his quarry by heaving any sort of leaded ox-horn 
at their heads. The phrase must mean nothing more than a 
plummet, cast into the shape of (/cara) a horn. 

Trout-fishing had now become my only open-air recrea 
tion. It is true that in Westmorland I got a few days' 
shooting every season with my brothers-in-law, though the 
grouse, hares, partridges, and even the rabbits, seemed to 
get fewer and fewer as the years went by. But my real 
exercise-ground was the Eden at Castle Bank. Immediately 
opposite the house, a weir crossed the river. Below it, a 
very short stretch of fast water, much harried by local 
anglers, provided practice with the wet fly. Above it, for 
half-a-mile or more, lay a deep still reach wherein a fair 
stock of trout, averaging three to the pound, invited and 
defied capture. For years, the fishers for the pot on the 
opposite bank so corrupted the taste of these trout, by fishing 
for them with maggots and a float, that they became ground- 
feeders. At the same time the motor came into general 
use, and the branch of the Great North Road which runs 

362 



1919-1925] PERSONAL DIVERSIONS 

down the Eden Valley drained its washings of petrol and 
lubricants into the river, till the water-born Ephemeridae 
were gradually killed off. So when the maggot-fishers had 
committed suicide, by reducing the carrion-fed trout to 
horrors which no fishmonger would buy, and the partial 
cessation of their activities gave the trout a chance of surface- 
feeding once more, there were practically no flies for them 
to feed upon. 

They remain dour and unwilling risers; yet tiny black 
midges and the like, upon 5x or 6x gut (their sight is 
diabolically keen), will occasionally tempt them. High 
banks, much overgrown, with a barbed-wire fence behind, 
make casting an expensive problem; to land a fish is a 
perpetual adventure. When a spate has coloured the water 
and set it in slow motion, there may, in warm weather, be 
a genuine rise for an hour or two. At all other times angling 
there is a pure academic exercise, a Barmecidal sport, a 
Modernist art, unpolluted by any connexion with material 
results. Even when some cautious fish has at last been 
enticed to take a fly, he seldom lets it get past his bony jaw; 
the tiny hook can get no hold there, and with a kick or two 
the trout is off again. 

In the Mayfly season, my friends at Brasenose still allowed 
me a day or two on the Windrush near Witney. Swift, and 
weedy and strong, the stream held much besides trout 
pike and otters, alas ! and chub in plenty. And it fed the 
fish so well that, having little need of any surface dainty, 
they grew as capricious as those of the Eden were cunning. 
Totally blank days (I have just had three in succession) or 
catches of one or two chub were the rule ; a trout was the 
exception. But the trout are such superb fighters, and seem, 
now and then, to attain to a size so exceptional, that one 
returns -year after year to the water filled with fresh hope. 
My particular stimulants are two in number. 

For several seasons a big snout used to poke up at a 
corner usually inaccessible. But one day a strong east wind 
enabled me to get a wet hackle-fly to the eddy. It was 

363 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1919-1925 

seized at once by the big fish, which, after boring chub-like 
into the depths, drifted down clumsily to me. There lay a 
huge brown trout of six or seven pounds weight, so fat that 
he could hardly swim, within a few inches of my net. 
Suddenly there was a sickening relaxation of the strain ; the 
fish wobbled back to his corner, and I was left to curse a 
hook which had straightened out. 

Eight years later my heart leaped again as something 
gigantic splashed at a Mayfly, not twenty yards away. 
This time I took no risks. In my cap was an undamaged fly 
that had taken a two-pounder that very morning. I tested 
the hook, used a Turle knot, and tested everything again 
with strong jerks, before risking a cast over the weeds to get 
at the giant. He had the fly in a moment, and tore off down 
stream towards a pool with a guardian willow root. Though 
I backed into the meadow, gripping hard on the line till my 
rod, a very powerful one, bent nearly double, I could neither 
stay nor divert the amazing weight and violence of the force 
opposed to me. Never have I felt the like. The fish reached 
the willow, and once more came that fatal slackening. He 
was off, and I reeled in a mangled fly, the whole point of the 
hook smashed away, the shank twisted as if by a pair of 
strong tweezers. Year after year the thrill of that tremendous 
experience entices me to the place ; year after year I bring 
back little or nothing to my sceptical family. I have never 
actually taken a trout there of more than sf Ibs.; ij Ibs. 
seems to be the average; and weeds or flaws in tackle reduce 
by half such few captures as the easterly gales, which now 
dominate the Mayfly season, leave for me to attempt. 

Now and then North-country practice has come in useful 
upon South-country waters. In the Bourne, immortalized 
by Mr. Plunket Greene, a Snipe-and-Purple caught trout 
which disdained its floating counterpart, the Iron Blue. In 
the Meon, on a cold windy day, a biggish sunken Greenwell 
took 31 fish, of which I had to keep four brace, to confound 
sundry sceptics at the Inn. Once, on the Gade, I had the 
horrid experience of fishing before a crowd collected on the 

364 



1919-1925] PERSONAL DIVERSIONS 

bridge above me, for a trout lying almost out of reach. Of 
course, after I had waded in to my limit, the fly caught on 
a thistle behind, and I had solemnly to wade to land and 
begin all over again. But I got that trout in the end with, 
quite accidentally, a second fish. As I stood nearly waist- 
deep among the weeds, one strand of them swayed slightly; 
another did likewise; evidently something was moving 
slowly through the under-water forest. A few yards ahead 
lay an opening in the greenery perhaps two feet across. 
On to this I pitched my Welshman's Button, and waited. 
In less than half a minute the fly was quietly sucked down 
and the fish well hooked. 

But enough of these rare red-letter days. In general, fish 
seem to have grown too clever to be hooked upon any 
"points' that are not too fine to hold them. I can't think 
my casts are responsible; Mr. Dunne's preparation really 
seems to give drawn gut a new lease of life. Does the fault 
then lie with the rod? Must I discard the noble casting- 
engines that Messrs. Farlow have built for me, which will 
lift a wet line above almost any obstruction on the bank 
behind, and revert to the gentler action of the c Boys' * rods 
made by Messrs. Hardy? On the Eden, at least, I seem to 
lose fewer flies in branches, fences and fish, when using this 
cheap and admirable substitute for the orthodox split-cane. 
But it would require the mind of a Charles Darwin to work 
out the pros and cons of the matter, and the pen of a Bernard 
to make the result worth reading. 



365 



CHAPTER XIX 

THE NATIONAL GALLERY (ii) 
(1919-1925) 

Voluntary and other assistants ; redecoration and rearrange 
ment ; handbooks, photographs, lectures, music ; help from 
Parliament ; the Lane and Chantrey Bequests ; Sir Aston Webb ; 
some notable pictures ; two cause trouble ; death of Claude 
Phillips and other good friends ; a claim by the Inland 
Revenue ; Lord Curzon's last years. 

BEFORE silent thankfulness for the signature of the Armistice 
had time to find vent in cries of joy, we were pleading with 
the Treasury for a junior assistant. To set in motion the 
multifarious machinery of the Gallery, and to keep it 
running, was more than two pairs of hands could possibly do. 
Voluntary help we had already received from Mr. Fred 
Wallop, a good judge of English pictures, a fountain of 
information upon social topics or family pedigrees, and from 
Henry Oppenheimer, jolHest of financiers, collectors and 
friends. When the War began, c Hen. Op. J had severed, at 
a heavy cost, his connexion with the firm of Speyer Bros. 
Then, as already related, his prompt action enabled us to 
secure the Tube station for the storage of our treasures. 
Finally he worked under us as a clerk, seeming happiest 
when his tasks were the humblest. Born and bred in 
Germany, he had countless friends and connexions there, 
particularly among scholars; yet he supported England 
with a single-minded devotion, made all the more admirable 
by the sacrifice of old associations which it continually 
exacted. I enjoyed his hospitality; I admired the master 
pieces in his famous collection ; but it was the man himself 
who made these things precious, and left me always wonder 
ing how a fortune in the City could ever have been made 
by one so essentially simple and good, 

366 



1919-1925] PERSONAL DIVERSIONS 

Our requirements at Trafalgar Square were now too great 
to be satisfied by any temporary helpers. Young soldiers 
were being set free, and the first who came to us was John 
Dodgson. But his desire to be a painter proved too strong, 
and the picture upon which he was then engaged, a war 
memory of motor-bicycles under repair, showed such ex 
ceptional promise as to justify his decision to give up office 
work. He was succeeded by R. M. Y. Gleadowe from the 
Admiralty, whose talent had been apparent in his under 
graduate days at Oxford. A most delicate draughtsman, 
his diversity of gifts proved useful in many ways, until he 
also found our routine irksome and accepted a mastership 
at Winchester. This he afterwards combined with the Slade 
Professorship at Oxford. While Gleadowe was ' trying out 3 
his mastership, his place was taken by his lively and helpful 
friend, Dynely Hussey. When the time came, however, for 
a definite Civil Service appointment, the claims of W. G. 
Constable, formerly Fellow of St. John's, Cambridge, and 
now slowly recovering from the effects of active service, were 
so strong that Hussey left us to join the staff of the * Times.* 
Constable remained with us from September 1923 to the 
time of my retirement, shortly afterwards accepting the 
Directorship of the Courtauld Institute, to which he has 
recently added the Cambridge Slade Professorship. To 
these able assistants, and particularly to his colleague, 
Collins Baker, 'his prematurely aged young men* as the 
* Times 5 once termed them, the Director owes the best part 
of any respectable work that may then have been done at 
Trafalgar Square. Mr. H. I. Kay (now Keeper), with 
Mr. Booker, Miss Cox, and their admirable photography, 
also deserve remembrance well ; as do Wadham and Tyrer 
among the attendants. 

To collect our scattered pictures from the Tube, from 
Overstone and from Cheltenham, was much easier than to 
exhibit them. Clerks from the Admiralty, and their appur 
tenances, still occupied a large part of the gallery and the 
ground floor. The whole place cried aloud for redecora- 

367 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1919-1925 

tion, and for many other things. And over us all hung the 
black cloud of National Poverty. Having spent umpteen 
millions a week on the Arts of War, we had nothing whatever 
left for the Arts of Peace. The difficulties were more 
apparent than real. In placing all secondary works in a 
Reference Section, and reserving the upper rooms for ex 
hibiting only the very finest pictures (as at the Portrait 
Gallery) 3 we found general support. In the matter of 
decoration, the views of the Trustees proved so divergent 
that experiment in various styles was a natural result. This 
permission, in its turn, was controlled by official orders for 
the very strictest economy. Plain paint, and not too much 
of that, was all the Nation could afford. 

Personally, I wished for nothing better. Paint did not 
absorb dust and dirt as woven fabrics do, nor was it so apt 
to fade and discolour. The walls, years before, had been 
decorated with deep tones of green or red, now grown dark 
and heavy. To make the place cheerful, much lighter 
schemes were needed. Mr. Brown, the foreman painter of 
the Office of Works, proved an expert ally, and on one 
occasion, where the paint had been laid too uniformly, 
Gleadowe and I took brush in hand after closing hours, and 
in two or three strenuous evenings stippled a mosaic over a 
whole room. Not all the rooms yielded to treatment so 
easily as No. XXI, where the original ground was of silver, 
but in Room XXVI an unexpectedly rich effect came from 
hatching a thin coat of gray over the original deep red. 
As the Siena Gallery had served as model for the white walls 
of Room I, so the Sacristy of S. Lorenzo suggested a scheme 
from which the stark ferro-concrete of our office passages 
derived a certain dignity, the pietra serena effect being pro 
duced by clever Mr. Brown with a pad of sacking. 

While the rooms round the Dome were still filled with 
Admiralty desks and chairs they had a striking resemblance 
to a cruciform church. This resemblance we now utilized 
by grouping in them our large Italian altar-pieces, which had 
hitherto dwarfed all pictures of moderate size hung near 

368 



1919-2925] THE NATIONAL GALLERY 

them. In this e church' the altar-pieces found something 
like their natural setting; the walls elsewhere were freed 
from their disproportionate magnitude, and if the light 
sometimes was rather dim, that was not inappropriate to 
religious tradition. 

The chill winds of economy blighted one much-needed 
improvement. The roofs of two rooms at the east end of the 
building had to be reconstructed. As the rooms were much 
too high to show pictures to advantage, we took the oppor 
tunity of trying to get them made lower, but in vain. To 
put them right would add to the expense. That was not all. 
In the course of the discussion, plans got through which left 
them too dark as well as too lofty. We took special care to 
avoid both these faults when designing the Mond Room. 
In its simple way this shows the pictures admirably, and 
suggests that elaborate schemes for avoiding reflections are 
superfluous if walls are really well lighted. 

After a little skirmishing, we were allowed to publish 
postcards, photographs, catalogues and guide-books on our 
own account, with our Lewis Fund to serve for working 
capital. Previous apprenticeship to publishing now came in 
useful. While Baker applied himself to postcards and photo 
graphs, I compiled an Illustrated Guide to the place, on a 
plan developed from the Boston Museum Handbook. Being 
more attractive in looks, if much less informative, than an 
Official Catalogue, this Guide had an immediate success. 
The annual sale ran into five figures, and the 400 profit, 
when added to the still greater profit from photographs, 
made a pleasant contribution to our Purchase Funds. A 
few diehards might sneer at the gay Catalogue Stall as 
degrading the Gallery to the level of a shop, but the public 
interest which it evoked, quite apart from the profits, was 
enough to console us. Of the photographic studio, fitted 
up by H.M. Office of Works, we were particularly proud. 

The attraction of the public by lectures might also have 
been held up, but for the invaluable support of Lord 
Sudeley . That smiling enthusiast, undeterred by any rebuffs, 

369 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1919-1925 

compelled unwilling, embarrassed Members of both Houses 
of Parliament to visit the Gallery, agitating everywhere with 
such good-humoured persistence that the barriers of re 
trenchment gave way. A lecturer was restored to us in the 
capable person of Hubert Wellington, who, like most of 
those who helped us then, has now passed on to more 
profitable employment. 

Another product of National Poverty was an increase from 
two to four in the number of paying-days per week, the extra 
receipts being credited to our Purchase Grant. By institut 
ing a series of musical performances on one of these paying- 
days, we made a little extra money, and started a fashion 
which has since become popular elsewhere. Gleadowe had 
the bright idea ; Sir Hugh Allen blessed it ; my wife helped 
with details, and all was, going well, when two successive 
November fogs, by depleting our audience, compelled us to 
stop during the winter of 1922-3. The start had been made 
in July by a quartet from the Royal College of Music ; The 
Kendall Quartet, The Royal Academy of Music, the Hill 
Rivington Quartet, the Snow Quartet, and the Cathie 
Quartet were the other performers. Before the music could 
be resumed in the spring, the extra paying-days, its raisons 
d'Stre, were abolished. 

They had never been a popular institution, though the 
only overt protest was a procession in Trafalgar Square of 
art students, carrying a banner and headed by an impulsive 
friend ; a distinguished artist, and a Trustee of the Tate 
Gallery! Another procession, and another banner, cele 
brated the late Lord Leverhulme's decapitation of his por 
trait by Augustus John. The caricature-banner was left on 
our steps, and may still be reposing somewhere in the Gallery 
cellars. Our feelings towards this performance were modi 
fied by the fact that Lord Leverhulme had outbidden us at 
Christie's for a very fine Catalan primitive, and had declined 
to transfer his purchase to the Nation when we begged him 
to do so. 
The increased cost of living now called for a general re- 



THE NATIONAL GALLERY 

consideration of salaries. At the conference on the subject, 
we were even more dismayed than amused by the superb 
indifference to the things of this world shown by certain 
eminent colleagues. They felt it beneath the dignity of Art 
and Scholarship to ask for better pay, quite forgetting, in 
their unselfishness, that their less well-to-do subordinates 
could not afford such princely abnegation. Salaries are 
strictly graded, and the underlings would inherit all the 
pains of self-denial with none of its glory. Of course the 
heroic gesture was applauded by the official economists ; it 
foreshadowed a great and wholly unexpected saving. But, 
rather incautiously, they went on to improve the occasion, 
pointing out how unimportant Art and Scholarship really 
were to the Country, compared with their own practical 
administrative labours. This sweeping pronouncement was 
rather too much for our Trustees : it led to a protest and a 
rational settlement. 

The provision of funds, not only for current purchases, 
but for saving our artistic heritage from the natural ambition 
of American millionaires, was constantly debated by the 
Board. Our Parliamentary Bills had been dropped, but 
innumerable schemes. Memoranda and Conferences, for 
passing on the expense to other people, by an Export Duty 
upon Works of Art, a Stamp Duty upon all Sales, or a Tax 
upon Auction Sales, occupied a vast amount of time, and 
invariably came to nothing. A plan suggested by Mr. 
Winston Churchill, when Chancellor of the Exchequer, was 
in my opinion the most practical of the lot. Perhaps for that 
reason it was also the most short-lived. 

Real progress began in 1921; when the powers at the 
Treasury, having discovered us to be sensible, became sym 
pathetic. About the same time Sir Philip Sassoon was 
appointed a Trustee. Young, rich and clever, like the hero 
in a novel by Disraeli, he was in touch with all the great ones 
of the day, and so was able to do us more than one notable 
service. I had discussed with Sir Richard Hopkins the possi 
bility of an amendment to the Finance Act, whereby art 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1919-1925 

treasures of National importance could be freed from Estate, 
Legacy and Succession Duties if they were sold to National 
institutions. This amendment Sir Philip promptly proposed 
and carried in the House of Commons. Owners, at last, had 
a substantial inducement to give the Nation the first refusal 
of anything which they wished to sell. Sir Philip followed 
up this initial success by obtaining, in the course of a debate 
in 1922, an undertaking from the Chancellor to help liberally 
towards the retention in England of a few works of the very 
highest importance should they ever come into the market. 
This undertaking, renewed by successive Governments, 
solved the gravest of our financial problems. 

Such a provision had been the ideal of our e Burlington 3 
days. In working out the details we were most generously 
helped by Sir George Barstow, but my personal explanation 
of them to the Chancellor, Sir Robert Home, nearly proved 
a ridiculous fiasco. There was so much to say that I could 
say nothing, and had not Sassoon come to the rescue the 
appeal must have failed completely. Two considerations, 
doubtless, induced a tolerant reception. The list of irre 
placeable works was very short ; and most of the pictures 
upon it were unlikely to come upon the market for some 
time, if ever. Not one, indeed, was purchased during my 
term of office, but shortly after my retirement the Gallery 
was able to acquire, by this provision, the 'Wilton Diptych' 
and the great c Cornaro ' Family by Titian. 

England was not the only country exposed to the enter 
prise of transatlantic collectors. America, it was rumoured, 
had formed a great syndicate to purchase, for some two and 
a half millions, the pick -of the treasures of the Vienna 
Gallery. On the other hand, if Vienna were to deposit 
some ten or twelve of these masterpieces on loan to the 
National Gallery, for a period, say, of ten years, the pictures 
would serve as a e token * acknowledgment of a money loan 
of far greater value, and Austria would be saved from the 
necessity of selling her National treasures outright. The idea 
was taken up warmly by Lord Curzon, but when the pro- 

372 



THE NATIONAL GALLERY 

posal received open official encouragement, it was swelled 
and complicated by claims from other institutions, and from 
one of our Allies; was passed on, thus inflated, to the 
Reparations Commission, and there collapsed in the wind 
of international talk. 

My chief memory of the business is that of a journey to 
Paris. At Boulogne, a middle-aged stranger handed over 
to my charge a rather attractive young niece, and then 
abruptly vanished. She would be met by her aunt, Madame 

de ? at the Gare du Nord. She was not met. As we 

waited and waited on the platform my embarrassment 
increased; the whole thing was too like an incident in a 
novel. If my mission had been of momentous import, I 
should have suspected a plot. Anyhow, I was too old for 
romance. It was a relief to find the nameless young lady 
to be even more uncomfortable. She was afraid either to 
drive to her aunfs house alone, or to let me know the address 
and give her a lift. This last she had eventually to do, and 
her relief at falling into the arms of friendly retainers at the 
door of a mansion near the Madeleine was as genuine as 
mine at being rid of her. But I had delayed too long. My 
room at the hotel had been filled. Paris was crowded, and 
in the end I found myself tramping the street, with my bag, 
in steady rain, unable to find either a taxi or a bed for the 
night. In this outcast condition I appealed to a passing 
nurse. She directed me to a discreet hotel, patronized 
chiefly by royalties and ambassadors, where I was per 
mitted to have the use of an attic. The bill next morning 
made me thankful that it was not a bedroom. 

The controversy over the Lane Bequest was a persistent 
intruder upon regular work. Lane's promises had been 
made to Aitken and MacColl, so had Duveen's offer of a 
Modern Foreign Gallery to render the Bequest effective; 
yet we, at Trafalgar Square, had to keep an eye upon the 
innumerable documents and arguments which each party 
brought forward. It was lucky that we did so. The 
Government, always eager to give Ireland the benefit of 

373 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1919-1925 

any doubt, was most anxious that no injustice should be 
done to those who claimed that a signed but unwitnessed 
sheet of notepaper, discovered some time after Lane's death 
among his miscellaneous effects, ought to take precedence of 
his formal, legal Will. 

One afternoon I was suddenly ordered to bring down the 
Lane papers to a Committee of the Cabinet. I crammed 
the bulky file into an attache-case and hurried to Whitehall 
to hand it over. Instead, I found myself ushered into the 
presence of the Committee itself, and expected to state the 
English case in answer to the Irish Secretary. Looking 
round the august assembly, I thought I recognized, in a 
smiling countenance just opposite, a distinguished Civil 
Servant with whom I had a nodding acquaintance at my 
Club ; so I nodded to him, by way of encouraging myself, 
before settling down to receive Mr. Ian Macpherson's attack. 
Happening to take off my glasses a few minutes later, I saw 
to my dismay that I had been mistaken, and had claimed 
acquaintance with Mr. Stanley Baldwin. 

The Irish plea, though eloquently stated, had a disputable 
foundation in fact, and no legal validity. It was not there 
fore difficult, even without preparation or first-hand know 
ledge, to put the case for common sense, and I was much 
struck, as were others, by that quality when it came to 
Mr. Baldwin's turn to speak. To reverse a recent and 
formal testamentary disposition by Sir Hugh Lane, whose 
soundness of mind and business capacity were beyond all 
question, would be to violate a basic principle of the law of 
the land, and would open the way to endless abuses. The 
Committee in consequence recommended, if I remember 
rightly, a sharing of the French Collection by means of 
generous loans to Dublin. This partition the Trustees 
approved and offered, in vain. Some years later, a special 
Government Committee of Three was appointed to recon 
sider the evidence and, with the best will in the world, could 
come to no other conclusion. The Committee interested 
me because one of the three was Major J. W. Hillsj whose 

374 



1919-1925] THE NATIONAL GALLERY 

c Summer on the Test 5 is, I think, the finest description 
extant of modern trout-fishing and I am not forgetting 
Mr. Halford, Lord Grey, Mr. H. T, Sheringham, Mr. 
Skues, Mr. Plunket Greene and other masters of the fly- 
rod and the pen. 

The untiring energies of the Tate Gallery were now 
partially diverted by contention with the Royal Academy 
for a share in choosing the pictures bought for exhibition 
at Millbank from the Chantrey Bequest. Some reform was 
essential, and I quickly learned to respect the abilities of 
the President, Sir Aston Webb, in reconciling this necessity 
with the stubborn resistance to all reform offered by certain 
veteran members of his Council. As an architect Sir Aston 
might be more successful than heaven-sent ; as a diplomatist 
he had few equals. Once, being interested in an Academic 
election, he spent the night before it at Oxford with the 
Vice- Chancellor, Dr. Farnell. Hardly had the proceedings 
opened next day, when that erudite but impressionable 
authority, to our amazement, burst out into a denunciation 
of the practical value of scholarship. So overwhelming was 
it, that it completely swept aside the claims of the most 
eminent among the candidates, and Sir Aston's man was 
very nearly appointed on the spot, because he alone was not 
a scholar. An adjourned meeting did something to restore 
proportion. Freed from the spell of Sir Aston's magic, the 
Chairman now pronounced for scholarship as definitely as 
he had condemned it a week earlier. Personally, when 
settling occasional differences between ourselves and the 
Royal Academy, I found it a great help to be able to discuss 
them with one so shrewd, so sensible and so friendly as the 
President. We both tacitly recognized the difficult material 
which he had to handle, and the Academy owes not a little 
of its present reputation for tolerance to the tact and 
moderating influence displayed by Sir Aston Webb during 
that critical time. 

Our main business, of course, was to secure the pictures 
which the Gallery ought to have. At the moment of our 

375 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1919-1925 

supreme penury, the c Wilton Diptych' gave us a bad fright. 
It was, apparently, on offer to a friendly firm at ^40,000. 
In despair I wrote to Mr. Bonar Law and asked for the 
money. He offered us half: the rest must be raised by 
subscription. Any public appeal, at the time, was impos 
sible. I therefore wrote again, asking for a promise of the 
whole sum, explaining (on the strength of a remark of Lord 
Lansdowne's) that the money would probably not be needed, 
but that the effect upon the credit of the Nation in the Art 
Market would be immense. Mr. Bonar Law very nobly 
gave us the guarantee; the money was not required after 
all, but the reality of the Gallery's financial backing was 
established for good. Since we had all the time to compete 
with the vast resources of America, this confidence was 
essential to any serious negotiation. 

In 1919 Prince Youssoupoff suddenly appeared with his 
two famous Rembrandt portraits, still concealed by the 
c Modernist' canvases under which he had contrived to 
bring them out of Russia. Thrilling as was his account of 
the death of Rasputin, the story of his own escape, in the 
disguise of an art student, with the family jewels swathed 
round his body in long, painful chains, was no less vivid. 
Trying indeed must the moment have been when a Kom- 
missar, much interested in the arts, took a fancy to one of 
the Prince's first experiments in painting, and wanted to 
buy it, in ignorance of the fact that it covered a Rembrandt 
masterpiece. He was put off with difficulty, and the promise 
of a still better work when the student had acquired a little 
more experience. 

How uncertain conditions in Russia still were, we learned 
from other sources. At one time I had to prepare a valua 
tion of the principal pictures in the Hermitage Gallery, 
owing to a rumour that they were shortly to be sold. Shortly 
before, the Gallery had sent a young official to us to learn 
how we kept our pictures in good condition. He painted 
the Russian situation in rosy hues. His Director was a 
personal friend of Lenin, and through him the officials of 



THE NATIONAL GALLERY 

the Gallery had every kind of privilege. Two years later 
he wrote to me from Paris, and his letter began : c I have 
now escaped from Russia. 3 

We made a point of seeing everyone who called at the 
Gallery with pictures for sale. In general this was a sad 
waste of time, for the paintings offered were either things 
we didn't want, or utter rubbish. But one day a cosmo 
politan gentleman came to ask if he could get us anything 
in Austria. I happened to remember the only known 
masterpiece by Brueghel which was in private possession, 
and modestly asked for that. Off he went, and presently 
quoted 50,000. Our price was 15,000. The picture 
changed hands, and the new owner, a pleasant fellow, asked 
successively 30,000, 22,500 and finally 15,000, But 
the negotiations had lasted so long that all our little money 
had been spent. So The Adoration of the Kings could only 
be paid for in instalments, with generous help from the 
National Art-Collections Fund and from a new benefactor, 
Mr. Arthur Serena. 

The art of Romney, being as much depreciated by 
common, clever critics as it is over-valued by dealers, is a 
thing which the politic Director will eschew. But the big 
Beaumont Family illustrated Romney's clean, masterly brush- 
work, and his unique perception of English character, so 
much better than anything which we possessed, that I had 
to advocate the unfashionable purchase. Far more popular, 
of course, with the critics was The Agony in the Garden, by 
Greco. This came over with a hole right through the 
canvas, and a coating of greasy filth, in the middle of which 
two small spaces, recently cleaned, shone out bright and 
livid. The Board, to whom Greco's manner would anyhow 
have been objectionable, were naturally horrified at the sight. 
I did my best, but the Trustees were equally divided when 
it fell to Lord Curzon to give the decisive vote. Glancing 
over his shoulder at the unhappy canvas, he remarked, C I 
would not myself give that much,' here he snapped his 
fingers, e for the picture, but after what the Director has said 

377 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1919-1925 

I have no option but to vote for it. 3 When we came to 
clean it, we found that the tough covering of grease and dirt 
had acted as a preservative, and that the paint had escaped 
the granular desiccation which is, apt to attack all pictures 
exposed to the climate of Madrid. 

We had long possessed a fine Trinity by Pesellino, known 
to be the centre portion of a larger altar-piece, which had 
been cut up some eighty years ago. Lady Brownlow now 
bequeathed to us an angel belonging to it. We were able 
to buy the corresponding angel from Lady Henry Somerset, 
and to obtain, through Lionel Oust, the loan from the King 
of two beautiful figures of Saints, one of the Prince Consort's 
far-sighted purchases. A few years later, the remaining 
figures were discovered in the Kaiser's private collection, 
in the Schloss at Berlin, where I went to see them. Negotia 
tions for the purchase of this fragment dragged on, and were 
not concluded at the time of my retirement. But the altar- 
piece as now reconstructed is something of a curiosity, since 
to no other single painting have the Monarchs of England 
and Germany, the National Gallery and two great ladies, 
each contributed a piece. 

The sensation of the time was the sale of Gainsborough's 
Blue Boy to America. We had forwarded an English offer of 
70,000 for the picture, but that was not enough to save it. 
We had to content ourselves with the sixpences from entrance 
fees during its exhibition in January 1922. Our beautiful 
Quinten Massys reminds me, chiefly, of a wild night drive 
in a small open car, after a dinner at which Mr. Charles 
Clarke most generously agreed to give it to the Nation. 
The great Christ before Pilate, of Honthorst, discovered by 
Gleadowe, cost us only 200, and a small controversy as 
to whether the judge represented is Pilate or Caiaphas. 
Another 200 purchase, the little Montefeltro family group, 
led to more recondite questioning. Personally, I thought it 
might prove to be one of the rare essays in the painting by 
the architect, Bramante; Mr. J. P. Heseltine, quite inde 
pendently, came to the same conclusion. Many, including 

378 



1919-1925] THE NATIONAL GALLERY 

Claude Phillips, suspected it for a forgery; Buttery and 
Holder, in consequence, submitted the worm-eaten panel to 
ordeals by heat, water, and various solvents. It resisted 
them all ; and remains a problem. 

Trouble of another sort was occasioned by Ochtervelt's 
Music Party > which we first saw in a shop-window. Not till 
after we had bought the painting did a photograph in the 
Witt Collection reveal a large dog in the foreground, which 
had, most ingeniously, been painted over. Fortunately the 
performer of the vanishing trick was known, and he brought 
back the missing animal, with consummate ease, in less than 
an hour. No surprise, however, was so complete as that 
occasioned by a visitor with an attache-case. From this he 
produced a parcel in a silk handkerchief; and from the 
handkerchief the precious Nativity by Geertgen Tot Sint Jans. 

Other pictures were not acquired so easily. Two fine 
examples of Holbein, after long discussion with the owners, 
never came actually within our reach. The famous Man in 
a Fur Cap, by Karel Fabritius, caused us a whole series of 
anxieties. It was to be put up at Christie's, but Lord Curzon 
was confident that he could get it withdrawn and sold to us 
privately. I had information that this was impossible, 
c My dear Director,' replied our Chairman, 'you must re 
member that I have infinitely more experience of Sales and 
Auctions than you,' and off he went to King Street. His 
mission having failed, the Board had to settle how much they 
should bid. The Trustees consented to go as far as 6500 
guineas, and were asked not to appear in the sale-room, lest 
by proclaiming the Nation's interest they should stimulate 
that of our rivals. Alec Martin would act for us with par 
ticular pleasure, since the picture, if secured, would be a 
noble memorial to his friend Claude Phillips, from whose 
Bequest the purchase price would come. 

I had just received by telephone the glad news that Martin 
had succeeded in getting the picture for 6300 guineas, when 
Lord Lansdowne was announced. He and another Trustee 
had kept our intention secret by attending the sale, and were 

379 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1919-1925 

glad to see that we had acquired the picture. But, had I not 
exceeded the Board's instructions as to price by some 300 
guineas? Would I mind letting him see the Minutes of the 
last Meeting? It was a disquieting question. Years before, 
when Sir Edward Poynter had gone a little beyond the 
Board's limit in order to secure Hogarth's Quin, Lord 
Lansdowne had insisted upon his making good the difference 
out of his own pocket. Could I possibly have made a similar 
and far more expensive mistake ? I sent for the Minute Book, 
and all was well. Faced with the figure of 6500 guineas, my 
noble visitor had nothing to say, and took himself off. 

Yet our troubles with that Fabritius were not over. The 
surface was slightly cracked and very dry : the pigment, in 
many places, a mere film of brown, which would suffer in 
cleaning unless it were most tenderly handled. One or two 
of the Trustees strongly favoured a Continental restorer, of 
unquestionable repute and scientific knowledge. Now I 
happened to have seen this famous man at work upon 
another delicate picture, which the Gallery contemplated 
purchasing. His drastic handling so frightened me that I 
transferred, on the spot, our official preference to a com 
panion work, as yet untouched by him. Yet so great was 
the man's reputation, and in many respects so well earned, 
that only after considerable debate could I get sanction for 
entrusting the Fabritius to less famous but more gentle 
fingers. The result of the cleaning was a success, as anybody 
can see to-day, and was admitted to be so at the time ; but 
I wonder whether success achieved in the face of a convinced 
opposition is really politic. 

Few things in life seem to excite such profound feeling as 
questions of taste in matters of art. You may challenge a 
man's political opinions with impunity; you may correct 
his facts or figures without rousing more than a smile ; but 
to question his judgment as a connoisseur is no laughing 
matter. As a simple experiment ; press an Epstein upon a 
J.P., or a Romney upon an intellectual. Every such pin 
prick leaves its tiny scar behind, and the sum of them may 

380 



1919-1925] THE NATIONAL GALLERY 

mount up in a few years to quite formidable corporate sore 
ness. How suddenly the irritation may start, how effectively 
it may strangle initiative, was proved by another purchase. 

There swam into our ken a painting by a famous master of 
the utmost rarity. Thfe work combined uncommon brilliance 
of condition with one striking feature which seemed, at the 
moment, incongruous. Possibly on this account, the auth 
enticity of the -picture was doubted by a member of the 
Board who had shown me conspicuous personal kindness, 
and was one of our most influential backers. He begged me, 
as a friend, not to recommend to the Trustees a work in 
which he totally disbelieved. Gratitude and friendship 
urged so strongly that I would have yielded to the entreaty 
at once, even if the painting had been of considerable im 
portance : but I knew this to be a chance which the Gallery 
could never get again, and I was taking the Nation's pay 
for exercising my personal judgment. The tradition of the 
Service forced me to recommend the picture ; I could only 
try to mitigate my friend's disappointment by giving the fullest 
weight to his objections when stating the case to the Board. 

The outcome was disastrous. We acquired the picture 
indeed, but its excellence was a poor consolation to me for 
the loss of a friend, and of the support which he gave us. 
For his influence, transferred to the opposition camp, placed 
us thenceforth in a permanent minority, at the mercy of any 
resolution which policy or accident might generate, especi 
ally when, with Lord Curzon's death, we lost the one Caesar 
to whom effective appeal had been possible. When giving 
evidence before the Royal Commission in 1928,* I had this 

1 * The services of a foreign picture-cleaner were pressed upon him strongly 
by certain members of the Board, and on the Director's refusal to take re 
sponsibility for the change, he was ordered to report to the Board before any 
cleaning of importance was undertaken (January, 1925). Shortly afterwards 
the Director was forbidden to make any change in the attribution of pictures 
in the Gallery without first reporting to the Board. Two years later the 
Trustees rejected the Director's plan for hanging new acquisitions. By these 
and other decisions of minor importance, the Director's power of making any 
change in the arrangement, repair or labelling of the collections without 
risking a conflict with the Board was extinguished. Even the propriety of 
his encouraging important gifts to the Gallery was seriously challenged.' 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1919-1925 

constitutional disadvantage in mind. The position in time 
became so depressing, so fatal to progress, that I applied in 
1926 for permission to retire, in order to take up a provincial 
curatorship; much as my colleague Collins Baker had 
afterwards to do. 

These years were fatal to other friendships. By Lord 
Plymouth's death we were deprived of our most staunch 
defender among the Trustees. Then Lord Ribblesdale's 
health broke down, and he was compelled to resign his seat 
on the Board. Seldom intervening in debate, and affecting 
to watch our discussions with the detachment of a sportsman 
at a street-fight, his friendly presence introduced an atmo 
sphere of fair play in which petty animosities did not flourish. 
The premature death of Arthur Glutton-Brock affected me 
still more closely. As a human being he was great fun, 
bubbling over with ideas and enthusiasm, all salted with 
disrespect for the popular Press and for pompous persons. 

fi Hullo, B m,' once roared a big breezy divine, hailing 

Brock in Waterloo Place, slapping him violently on the 

back, and using his Eton nickname. ' Hullo, X, you ! ' 

returned Brock, smiling sweetly in spite of his anguish. 
'And you know,' Brock told me afterwards, C X, for once, 
looked quite foolish, and hadn't a word to say.' 

As a man of letters, Brock was among the foremost of his 
day : as an art critic he never attained a position comparable 
to that held by Claude Phillips. I have related already how 
Phillips, through the "Daily Telegraph/ compelled all Eng 
land to recognize the importance of the Arts to civilization, 
and the world of amateur connoisseurs to respect trained 
scholarship. When that periodic check upon indifference, 
arrogance and blundering was withdrawn, the results were 
quickly apparent. It is hardly too much to say that with 
Claude Phillips there died the general appreciation of the 
Arts in England upon which not only Trafalgar Square and 
Bloomsbury, but Chelsea and Bond Street, the New English 
and the Academy, had existed for thirty years. No man of 
any similar gift has since appeared to fill the vacant place; 

382 



1919-1925] THE NATIONAL GALLERY 

and it is not surprising. Standing by his death-bed in the 
summer of 1924, I noticed that his features, at rest, assumed 
a quite unexpected grandeur.' This had been no ordinary 
intellect, but one far more comprehensive and powerful than 
we had ever guessed. Then, looking over the mass of his 
scribbled letters to me, I realized to the full how fortunate 
I had been in having known Claude Phillips so long and 
so well. 

Nor can I forget two friends in the publishing world who 
died six months later. There could be no stronger contrast 
to Philip Lee-Warner, eager, impulsive, pugnacious, always 
the schoolboy, alwkys in the midst of grand schemes and 
hot water, than the cool, diplomatic John Lane, who, after 
launching most of the poets and essayists of his day, was 
suspected by them all of having made a fortune out of their 
little books. The suspicion was rather unjust. As already 
mentioned, I did considerable business with Lane, and 
found him a keen man of affairs, but reliable and genuinely 
proud of giving a fair start to a promising beginner. Money- 
making firms avoid any such charitable ventures. To me 
Lane was a steady friend. We had common associations 
with Cornwall and with Stratton; he took an almost 
paternal interest in my doings; his clever wife and her 
books were great favourites with all my family. Once they 
borrowed from her a magnificent necklace for some domestic 
theatricals, and only when she asked rather anxiously for 
its return did they learn that the diamonds and emeralds 
were real. As for Lee-Warner, the advice I was once sup 
posed to give him about books and pictures had long since 
expanded into mediation between him and his companions 
in business. Among "his partners he seemed to lose the 
buoyant humour which made him the most delightful of 
friends, and the most unaccountable. But the flame of his 
energies burned too fiercely for Lee-Warner's physical 
strength. He died comparatively young; yet not before he 
had done almost as much for art, through his e Medici' 
prints and publications, as John Lane had done for literature. 

383 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1919-1925 

I have mentioned the death of Lord Curzon, but before I 
touch upon his last years, a few lesser incidents deserve to 
be recorded. The complete simplicity with which Mr. 
Samuel Courtauld came in to announce his gift of 50,000 
for the purchase of Modern Foreign Pictures ; with which 
Sir Joseph Duveen offered to build the Sargent Room at 
Millbank ; and with which Sir Robert Witt offered me his 
wonderful Library of Photographs for Trafalgar Square (all 
in June-July 1923), was in refreshing contrast to the diffi 
culties over the acceptance of the Claude Phillips Bequest, 
and to the protracted bargaining required before the Bequest 
of Dr. Mond could be finally arranged. Nor shall I forget 
the wretched red drugget, which was all that could be offi 
cially provided for the reception of the Crown Prince of 
Japan. We rolled the grubby thing up, while Gleadowe 
nobly rushed off in a taxi to fetch some of his fine silks and 
carpets for our distinguished guest to walk upon. That visit 
went off well ; unlike one from the Duke of Connaught, 
when a young attendant managed not only to be rude, but 
to break the Duke's nice walking-stick. 

Less discreditable, but more deeply wounding, was another 
experience. I had always paid Income Tax demands with 
out question or examination, trusting to the accuracy of my 
brother officials. Suddenly the Inland Revenue discovered 
that there had been an omission in my assessments, and 
claimed first 300, and then 362, for retrospective arrears 
during the past five years. I had not the money, and 
begged for some compromise, since the mistake was not 
mine. Compromise with a Civil Servant could not be 
entertained; even two years' time in which to pay was 
obtained with difficulty. The possible injustice of the claim 
(for I could not really follow the calculations) hurt me far 
less than the rigour with which it was pressed. 

Considering how to meet the demand, I remembered a 
fine drawing by Daumier, which I had intended to present 
to the Modern Foreign Gallery. Off it promptly went to 
Bond Street, and the 175 which it fetched went to stop 

384 



19*9-1925] THE NATIONAL GALLERY 

the hungry mouth of my Cerberus. But soon he was at me 
again; and then a miracle happened. A dealer's agent 
pressed me to sell a little painting which I had bought in 
my bachelor days. I don't sell my things, and, to put him 
off, said the price would be preposterous. Would I name 
it? Almost in jest, I added 200 to the highest value I 
could think of for such a canvas. The next morning I 
received a cheque, and was a free man once more. With 
that single exception, I had never sold (or bought) an 
old picture since I was married in 1903. The necessity 
of this precaution to avoid the tongue of slander was 
proved to me two years ago. At a sale, I got a poor 5 
portrait to go over my studio mantelpiece. As I paid for 
it, a bystander kindly asked; 'What! Are you taking to 
dealing? * 

In 1922, during the latter part of Lord Lansdowne's 
Chairmanship, Lord Curzon seemed to become more and 
more involved in high politics, until early in 1923, during 
Mr. Bonar Law's last illness, he was Acting Prime Minister. 
This prominence brought out his best qualities. One day 
he consulted me over the telephone about an appointment 
he proposed to make. The candidate was a friend and 
thoroughly capable, but too delicate, I feared, for a very 
trying post. Lord Curzon disagreed. A week or two later 
he sent for me to Carlton House Terrace to consult me about 
two pictures. When I had given my reasons for preferring 
one to the other, he laid his hand on my shoulder as I was 
leaving the room and said, C I think you're a very shrewd 
fellow, Holmes.' I stepped out on to the first of the black 
and white marble squares in the hall, immensely flattered, 
my head swelling. But long before I had got to the footmen 
and my hat, common sense returned and I asked myself, 
'What does he want? * I could think of nothing, and went 
round to my Club for lunch. The first news I saw on the 
notice-board was the very appointment I had questioned. 
Lord Curzon had just been letting me down kindly. The 
best of it was, he proved to be right and I to be wrong. 

385 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1919-1925 

His man did excellent service, and did not break down for 
nearly three years. 

About this time, a previous engagement compelled me to 
refuse a dinner invitation at a Club. My would-be host 
told me afterwards how much he regretted my absence, for 
I should have seen Lord Curzon in a new light. The other 
guests had been his Balliol contemporaries, and they started 
chaffing the great man, just as they used to do at Oxford. 
After a moment's pause, he met them in the same .spirit 
and, as of old, became the life and soul of the party. 
Finally, one of them walked back with him to Carlton House 
Terrace. At his door, Lord Curzon suddenly asked, C I say, 

R , have I been giving myself away too much ? J c My dear 

George, 3 was the reply, 'had you given yourself away like 
that more often, you would have been Prime Minister 
long ago.' 

The only sign of his disappointment about the Premier 
ship which I noticed was an occasional return of his 
asperity. Once, at Carlton House Terrace, to which he 
was constantly summoning me, he muddled me so that I 
clean forgot our official telephone number. Quickly repent 
ing, he let me off with his favourite comparison, 'You're as 
bad as the Foreign Office. 5 At another time, when I had 
prepared for him an elaborate precis of the Mond negotia 
tions, he got so vexed with it, and with me, that we were 
twenty-five minutes late for the conference at which we 
were due. But, as usual, he made his amende honorable when 
reporting to the Board, by referring to c the legal aspect of 
our case, which was argued by the Director with con 
spicuous ability.' 

Meanwhile, I fancy, a fresh ambition was maturing. If 
he could not be Prime Minister, he would be King in the 
world of Art. Two years before, at the Spa Conference, 
he had shown his feeling about that. Socialism was in the 
air, and the talk turned upon what each of the company 
would do if dispossessed of place and income. ' The Law 
will always be wanted,' said Mr. Lloyd George. C I should 

386 



19*9-1925] THE NATIONAL GALLERY 

just go back to my solicitor's business. But what about you, 
Balfour? 5 C I suppose,' said Lord Balfour, c that I should 
attempt to make a sort of living by writing articles on 
philosophy and history/ ( And you, Curzon ? 9 ' Oh, I know 
all about Pictures and China and Furniture; I should take 
up Duveen's line, and make a second fortune/ 

Succession to the Chairmanship of the National Gallery 
Board, which Lord Lansdowne now vacated, was the first 
step. Then the celebration of the National Gallery Cen 
tenary in the spring of 1924 brought Lord Curzon quickly 
to the front of the stage. He enjoyed the prominence. But 
instead of mellowing with success, his temper seemed thence 
forth to grow more exacting, his judgment more capricious, 
his geniality and his sense of humour to be leaving him. 
What remained was distinctly formidable. We did all we 
could to avoid occasions of offence and keep well in the 
background, but his extensions of the Chairman's authority 
made it impossible to avoid, now and then, some protest, 
or raising of constitutional issues which, under Lord Lans- 
downe's rule, had been more or less reasonably determined. 
The strain had grown almost too much for our nerves when 
the end suddenly came. Not till much later did it dawn 
upon me that we had been dealing with one who, despite 
appearances, was already a very sick man. 

At the time of Lord Curzon's death, this bruised condition 
prevented us, I think, from estimating him fairly. As he 
thrust forward, lapped in proof, he never quite saw how 
grievously a casual buffet might hurt men less well-armed for 
the melee. In after-thought, in the light of later experiences, 
he stands out to better advantage. When he fought, he fought 
in person; never stooping to decide a doubtful issue by 
intrigue at headquarters, by cabals, espionage, detraction, 
the resources of lesser men. Even his pride was not so much 
the pride of caste of that he had less than was imputed 
as a disdain for all, whatever their birth, who were unequal 
to his demands. Accustomed to flattery, he accepted it, 
and used it himself, as a form of address ; suspecting it only 

387 



SELF AND PARTNERS [1919-1925 

when it was unexpected. Having once backed a cause, he 
did not retreat or stand aside at the first show of opposition, 
with what, in high circles, passes for diplomacy and common 
people call funk. Like Lord Lansdowne he preserved the 
forms and sanity of debate, listening patiently to both sides 
and summing up with a singular absence of personal bias. 
One might fail to convince ; but from him one seldom failed 
to get a fair hearing. 

Whether this judicial temper, coupled with his other 
remarkable gifts, would have carried him through as Premier, 
is a question which contemporary opinion answered in the 
negative; and perhaps rightly. The jarring crises, the 
constant personal concessions, of democratic government 
were ill-suited to one who regarded politics as the most 
lofty of human callings. Had his chance come a century 
earlier, when a Minister might bear himself as an Olympian, 
even as a slightly florid Olympian, he would have been just 
the man for the part, taking BrummelPs rather reluctant 
arm, and bandying pleasantries with the Prince Regent, as 
the one whose place in that Georgian Trinity was certainly 
not the lowest. 



388 



EPILOGUE 

REPRESENTATIONS from several quarters, quite independent 
of each other, urge me to place on record the evidence 
which I gave in 1928 before the Royal Commission on 
National Museums and Galleries. The matter of course 
falls outside the period of this book : the Report of the 
Commission was issued years ago, and any opinions not 
represented in it are, for all immediate purposes, as dead 
as Queen Anne. Yet my views on two points, though not 
expressed perhaps as I should express them now, still seem 
sound enough to be worth remembering when the affairs 
of the National Gallery next come before the public eye. 
I am therefore so far acceding to my correspondents' 
wishes as to reproduce just the paragraphs which bear 
directly upon these two points, and nothing else. The 
two points are : 

(1) The desirability of defining the Director's power to 

decide purely technical questions. 

(2) The desirability of recovering and exhibiting at 

Trafalgar Square a group of the later water-colours 
by Turner. 

On the first point I have already said enough. The 
need for some constitutional reform has been illustrated 
by a recent case, whereby it was shown that an officer of 
the Gallery has no valid protection against alleged in 
justice, nor any remedy but resignation of his post and his 
rights to a pension. 

The sad plight of the Turner water-colours now pricks 
me far more sharply than any of these bygone anomalies. 

389 



SELF AND PARTNERS 

Not half-a-dozen of Turner's exhibited oil-paintings illus 
trate the quintessence of his genius the supremely fascinat 
ing borderland where Painting touches the frontier of 
Music as do these enchanting sketches. The best of them 
are unique in the whole history of the graphic arts, opening 
up such visions of light and colour and etherealized form 
as we find nowhere else. 

Turner indeed is our Wagner, and it passes comprehension 
why we should now entomb his most triumphant products 
in remote portfolios, instead of keeping, as heretofore, a 
small selection on view at Trafalgar Square, where anyone 
can look in, en passant, and refresh himself for a few moments 
in the light of their beauty. The Print Room of the 
British Museum is a charming place when once you 
have got there, with an hour or two at your disposal for 
study. The mass of Turner's sketches could not be in 
safer custody, but a few of the best deserve to be made 
more accessible. 

I have always wished to see one room at the National 
Gallery devoted to Oriental painting : the contrast to our 
European modes of vision would be a valuable stimulus 
to design. Yet good Oriental paintings would have to be 
found, chosen and, frequently, purchased. The still more 
thrilling and instructive sketches by Turner in his final 
phase are already the property of the National Gallery, 
but we are taking such care of them that they cannot be 
seen there, or elsewhere, except by those with youthful legs 
and unlimited leisure. Possessing neither of these quali 
fications, I find myself cut off from the very form of art 
which delights me most. When I think of the arguments 
that were used to get these precious drawings away from 
Trafalgar Square to Millbank, of the flood there, and of 
their subsequent burial in the British Museum, my feelings 
almost get the better of me, and persuade me to conclude 
this little Testament, like Malachi, with a curse. I will 
leave it as a prayer to the powers that be. 

390 



EPILOGUE 

(i) The Administrative Problem I 

c Our system of purchase under the 1894 Minute, and as still 
further defined by The Lansdowne Resolutions of June, 1902, 
is one of purchase by Committee. The system has one dis 
advantage which is generally admitted, in that it tends to 
compromise, and to the loss of works of outstanding power and 
originality. All the greatest works of art have in them some 
element of the surprising and the unusual, to which the trained 
professional judgment is attracted immediately, but which is 
apt to shock the amateur at first sight, so that to him appreciation 
comes more slowly, and perhaps not at all. In consequence, 
one or two cautious members of a Committee, especially if 
they happen to be powerful and distinguished personages, may 
influence the rest by their hesitation, and block the purchase 
of the very works which by their surprising character should 
be the chief attractions of a great Gallery. Agreement will be 
reached only in the case of works which are inoffensive to 
all, and therefore supremely interesting to nobody. This 
was precisely what ' happened during the first 30 years of the 
Gallery's existence. The explosion that followed a long series 
of commonplace acquisitions of the Committee system cleared 
the way for the reforms of 1855, and purchase by an independent 
Director. This proved to be the making of the Gallery. 

So much for theory. In practice, during my term of office, 
the Board, with one or two exceptions, and these not supremely 
important, has always acted on the Director's recommendation. 
But this apparent uniformity has brought one curious and serious 
disability in its train. Several of the most notable purchases 
have been made only at the cost of considerable controversy. 
Each controversy tends to leave a little bitterness behind, a 
bitterness which perhaps is inevitable where a man's personal 
taste seems to be at issue, and to be flouted by the purchase of 
a picture which he dislikes. In time this creates a very real 
difficulty for an active Director. Whenever he obtains a 
majority vote for a purchase, he runs the risk of alienating the 
confidence of friends in the minority, who cannot on this occasion 
see eye to eye with him. They prefer some other school, some 
other type of work, or may be frankly suspicious of the picture 
in question. In time the cumulative result of these disappoint- 

1 These and one or two shorter quotations are reprinted, by kind permission 
of the Controller of H.M. Stationery Office, from < Oral Evidence Memoranda, 
etc., of the Royal Commission on National Museums and Galleries ' (London, 
H.M. Stationery Office, 1938. Price 1, is. net). 

39 1 



SELF AND PARTNERS 

ments will be to create a strong body of doubt, if not of definite 
opposition, upon the Board which would be fatal to the Director's 
influence. Unless the Director be a man of immense deter 
mination and courage, he will begin to feel that his task is 
hopeless, and to avoid giving further occasion to hostility will 
be careful to recommend nothing that is not inoffensive to the 
Board, with a result that the purchases tend to be as undis 
tinguished as those of a Committee pure and simple. Such a 
breakdown of the Director's energy and initiative would, of 
course, be a deplorable thing for a great Gallery ; since it is by 
the exercise of these qualities that all great Galleries have been 
made. 

The fear of it is no imaginary thing. I myself, for example, 
have not used the powers of emergency purchase which are 
nominally granted to the Director, simply because experience 
showed me that they were hedged round with so many cautionary 
restrictions that their employment would have led to immediate 
and formidable controversy. We have not perhaps lost much 
thereby, and I have been saved the trouble of hunting the sale 
rooms as carefully as I used to hunt them for the National 
Portrait Gallery, but the fact may be cited to show how dread 
of unpleasantness, even in a relatively trivial matter, may 
hamper a Director's energies. For it must not be forgotten that 
the very eminence of the Trustees, and the fact that the majority 
of them are famous in debate and in public affairs, places a 
Director at a great disadvantage the moment he has to discuss 
questions of principle and procedure, and at some disadvantage 
even when the controversy is more or less technical. He cannot 
always be so ready with his arguments, so apposite in his illus 
trations, or so just in his phrasing, as men whose lives have been 
spent round the Council table. He cannot hope to succeed in a 
discussion with such men, especially when they may be said to 
belong to a society apart from his, with direct access perhaps 
to the Cabinet or even to the Prime Minister, unless his case is 
so overwhelming as to speak for itself. Even then some phrase 
for which he is not prepared may lead to his undoing. Unless, 
therefore, his powers, both personal and statutory, are con 
siderable, the professional adviser to a Board of Trustees is likely 
to find after a time that he has to struggle against an opposition 
which is too strong for him. That is the inherent fault of the 
1894 system. 

Although I am in general agreement with Lord Carlisle's 
Memorandum of June, 1902, a return to the constitution of 
1855 might be distasteful to some members of the Board, as 

392 



EPILOGUE 

diminishing too much the authority to which they have become 
accustomed. I think the practical working of the Department 
would be greatly improved by a much less drastic change, 
which can best be understood by a brief summary of the historical 
facts. The constitution of 1894 soon gave rise to internal 
difficulties, and led to severe external criticism of the ineffec 
tiveness of the Board at a time when fine pictures were rapidly 
leaving the country. As a constitution, indeed, it did not differ 
in essentials from the practice of the National Portrait Gallery, 
which had worked without a single hitch during the whole 
seven years of my Directorship there. But on coming to 
Trafalgar Square I found that the constitution was interpreted- 
in a wholly different spirit, with a wholly different tradition, 
and a wholly different conception of the relation of the Trustees 
to the Director. At the National Portrait Gallery the Director 
was a professional adviser to the Board, and administrator of 
the Gallery, whom the Trustees united to help and encourage. 
At Trafalgar Square his opinion seemed neither to be asked 
nor expected. As the controversies between Lord Lansdowne 
and Sir Edward Poynter were on record, and as the breakdown 
of Sir Charles Holroyd under the system had just occurred, I 
saw that this attitude was not personal to myself but was the 
tradition of the place. Lord Plymouth acted as mediator in 
the discussions which ensued, and an assurance was obtained 
from Lord Curzon that in 99 per cent, of the technical matters 
discussed the Board would accept the Director's opinion. This 
assurance, coupled with permission to make an emergency 
purchase up to 2000, with the consent of two Trustees, removed 
for the time being the more prominent disabilities of the Director 
and Staff. 

Hitherto the Chair at each meeting had been taken by the 
senior Trustee who happened to be present. The appointment 
in 1919 of a permanent Chairman created a new division of 
authority, but as I had worked under Lord Dillon in that 
capacity at the National Portrait Gallery with perfect ease, the 
position was not unfamiliar. And with Lord Lansdowne, the 
first Chairman, constitutional precedent was so carefully 
observed that few difficulties arose. His successor, Lord Curzon, 
so far enlarged the activities and authority of the Chairmanship, 
that by degrees the Director's authority was gradually absorbed. 
The cleaning of pictures, for example, being a highly technical 
matter, had hitherto been done by the Director's order and on 
his responsibility. Now the services of a foreign picture-cleaner 
were pressed upon him strongly by certain members of the Board, 

393 



SELF AND PARTNERS 

and on the Director's refusal to take responsibility for the change 
he was ordered to report to the Board before any cleaning of 
importance was undertaken (January, 1925). Shortly after 
wards the Director was forbidden to make any change in the 
attribution of pictures in the Gallery without first reporting to 
the Board. Two years later the Trustees rejected the Director's 
plan for hanging new acquisitions. By these and other decisions 
of minor importance, the Director's power of making any change 
in the arrangement, repair or labelling of the collections with 
out risking a conflict with the Board was extinguished. Even 
the propriety of his encouraging important gifts to the Gallery 
was seriously challenged. . . . 

In default of any more drastic remedy, it would be no small 
help to harmonious working if some distinction could be drawn 
officially and formally between the technical matters on which 
the officers of the Department may be presumed to speak with 
professional authority, and those matters of general and financial 
policy where the counsel of the distinguished amateurs forming 
the Board would be of service. Such technical matters would 
seem to include the cataloguing, attribution, cleaning, restoration 
and arrangement of the pictures in the collection, with the 
selection of the suitable frames and backgrounds for them. The 
right of the Director to decline pictures which he considers 
unsuitable has never been challenged. It would be well in 
addition to define beyond question his right of purchase and ' 
acquisition in emergencies, and of settling the organisation and 
work of the departmental staff. He would then be able to use 
his technical knowledge to proper advantage, although his 
powers would still be less than those of the Directors of most of 
the great Continental Galleries, or than those of his predecessors 
of 1855-1894 by far the most notable epoch in our Gallery's 
history. Such a definition, after all, would be hardly more 
than a formal embodiment of the assurance given by Lord 
Curzon in 1916, to which I have already referred. 

In greater matters, the authority of the Trustees might well 
remain as it is in the 1894 arrangement. By separating out this 
technical business we should at once remove one of the most 
constant causes of friction, . . . not only possible friction with a 
Director, but a certain amount of trouble with the staff They 
(the staff) can never know . . . whether they are not liable 
to do something which is going to get either themselves or 
someone else into trouble with the Board. The result is that 
the actual working of the place is delayed by people wanting 
to know whether they have authority for the smallest thing, 

394 



EPILOGUE 

because they do not know whether it will be brought up in 
judgment afterwards or not. I think it would make all our 
lives a great deal easier if and now I am speaking as a human 
being and not merely as an official we could be relieved of 
that risk. 

I want the Commission to recognise that a sensible Director 
would not in any important issue commit himself, if he had the 
least doubt, without telling one or two members of the Board 
what he intended to do. ... I do not feel that in giving some 
of these powers to the Director you do anything really except 
help him to get through what is an enormous amount of work 
with the least possible friction. 3 

(2) The Turner Water-Colours 

c The collection of Turner drawings may quite logically be 
divided into two parts. The first part contains some three 
or four thousand water-colour drawings, finished or partially 
finished, which are of very great aesthetic interest and value, 
and have a very considerable market value, since a great many 
of them belong to the phase of Turner which is most highly 
valued by collectors all over the world. 

The second portion consists of sketch books in pencil isolated 
sketches in pencil mere scribbles and note books, of which I 
believe there must be something like 12,000 the material from 
which Turner composed his pictures. Those have a very 
definite historical interest for the few, really few, students of 
Turner. They have all, by the action of the Trustees in the 
past, been arranged in good order, and if they were deposited 
on loan in the British Museum they could there be stored and 
kept in the way which would make them most useful to the 
occasional student. 

The coloured drawings, on the other hand, ought to be 
retained by the Trustees, because they are part of the nucleus 
of Turner, which is perhaps the largest remaining asset that the 
Trustees have for interchange of loans. A group of Turner 
water-colours might well go with any show of English pictures, 
because there is nothing which is better calculated to show the 
originality and greatness of the English School. If those were 
once deposited anywhere else, as at the British Museum, we at 
the National Gallery would be divesting ourselves, quite un 
necessarily, of one of the most valuable parts of the possessions 
with which we are entrusted. And I venture to say that at the 
British Museum they would be infinitely less accessible, when 

395 



SELF AND PARTNERS 

once put away in their portfolios, than they may ultimately 
become if they are looked after either at Trafalgar Square or 
at Millbank. When the question of custody at Millbank arose 
a few weeks ago, my colleague spoke to me about this, and I 
said at once : " If you are in any doubt let me have them 
at the National Gallery and I will somehow or other make 
arrangements for their custody, short-handed as we are." I think 
it is most important that the Trustees should not be induced 
to relinquish by any specious arguments, something which is 
not only extraordinarily creditable to English Art but which 
is very closely wrapped up with the unique collection of Turner 
paintings which we possess.' 



ERRATA 

p. 1 88, 1. 8. For c Richard ' read c Robert 5 
p. 248, 1. 21. 'Posilipo' e Pozzuoli 3 

1. 29. c thank * < could thank * 
P. 35 1 * 1 - 9* c *93* ' 



396 



INDEX 



Agnew, Lockett, 226 

Aitken, Charles, 307, 330, 3425 

373 

Alexander, Prince, 85 
Alexander, Mr., 269 
Allen, Grant, 140 
Allen, Sir Hugh, 370 
Ambrose, G. E., 319 
America, 148-150, 189, 222-224, 

287, 291, 303, 334, 336, 345, 

34 6 > 355, 356, 369* 37 1 372, 

376, 378 

Anson, Sir W., 264 
Apuleius, 175, 176 
Archery, 50, 51 
Armstrong, Miss, 225 
Arnold, Edward, 132, 133, 137 
Asquith, Earl of Oxford and, 232, 

262, 280, 286, 288, 289, 304, 

35> 3i5> 32i, 325 
Asquith, Countess of Oxford and, 

3 2 5 

Austin, Alfred, 198 
Austria, 372, 377 

Bacon, T. W., 271, 272, 282 

Bailey, J. T., 210 

Baines, Sir Frank, 327 

Baker, C. H. Collins, 226, 275, 
285, 3H, 318-324, 327, 328, 
329, 33 1 , 334, 343> 344, 34, 
353, 3 6 7> 369, 382 

Balcarres, Lord, 264 

Baldwin, Mr. Stanley, 350, 374 

Balfour, Lord, 1 1 8, 222, 232, 244, 

245> 352, 353. 387 
Ballantyne Press, 127, 129-131, 

137-140, 143, 144, 173, 179 
Bangs, Lemuel W., 148 
Barren, Oswald, 188 
Barstow, Sir George, 372 
Bate, Francis, 237, 284, 302 



Beardsley, Aubrey, 167, 168, 229 
Beatty, E. T., 33, 34 
Beaven, Rev. A. B., 53-56 
Beerbohrn, Max, 170, 187, 242, 

284, 300, 303 
Beit, Alfred, 215 
Belgium, i33' I 35> 205 
Bell, C. F., 259, 262, 264 
Bell, R. Aiming, 164 
Bennett, Arnold, 342 
Benson, A. C., 92 
Benson, R. H., 319 
Bentinck, Lord Henry, 282, 297, 

357 
Berenson, B., 181, 198, 213, 214, 

227, 272, 333 
Bernhardt, Sarah, 158 
Bertie, Lord, 339 
Bickers, G. H., 354 
Binyon, Laurence, 152, 181, 186- 

190,211,235,259,262,307 
Birley, Mrs. Langton, 97 
Birrell, Mr. A., 286 
Blacklock, Sam, 106, 201 
Blackwell, Geoffrey, 283 
Blaikie, W. B., 119-122, 128 
Blanche, Jacques, 194 
Bland, F. L. 5 82 
Bode, Dr. W., 214, 230, 231, 269, 

270 

Bone, Canon F., 24-26, 138 
Bone, Muirhead, 284 
Booker, W. D., 367 
Books, see Writing 
Booth, Sir Alfred, 335, 341 
Bottomley, Horatio, 126 
Boxing, 105, 106, 139, 140, 153, 

157, 201, 202 
Brandram, S., 81, 236 
Brasenose, 90, 91, 99-111, 141, 

202, 238, 239, 242 
Brereton, Cloudesley, 188 



397 



SELF AND PARTNERS 



Brewer, Cecil, 188 
British Museum, 3, 159, 390^ 395 
Broadbent, Henry, 73 
Bromley-by-Bow, 14, 15-16, 17, 19 
Brown, Fred, 281, 284 
Brown, Prof. G, Baldwin, 235 
Brownlow, Lady, 378 
Buckmaster, Lord, 335, 341 
Bude, 19, 22, 27, 28, 138, 238 
'Burlington Magazine,* 210, 213- 

234, 262, 267, 268-270, 281, 322, 

372 

Burnham, Lord, 324 
Burnside, Canon, 39, 351 
Burton, Sir F., 118 
Bussell, Dr. F. W., 91, 102, 247 
Butler, Dr. A. J., 101, 102, 125, 

202, 227, 228, 235, 238, 362 
Butler, Mr. A. J., 115, 125 
Butler, Samuel, 180 
Buttery, A. H., 295, 379 



Calderon, George, 188, 192 
Cambridge, 7, 8, 88, 89, 124, 255, 

352, 353, 3 6 7 
Cameron, Sir D. Y., 148 
Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H., 223 
Canterbury, 35, 38-46, 59-65, 173, 

37> 350, 35i 
Carfax, 176, 199, 231, 253, 282, 

283, 297, 357 
Carline, Sydney, 301 
Carlisle, Lord, 220, 296, 392 
Carnsew, J., 138 
Carr, Rev. C. H., 9, 10 
Carr-Bosanquet, R., 159 
Carter, Dr. Ronald, 278, 279 
Casimir-Perier, 9, 17 
Central London Railway, 327 
Chamberlain, Sir Austen, 333, 

335, 336> 34<>> 34i 
Chamberlain, Mr. Joseph, 53, 153 
Chamberlain, Mr. Neville, 172 
Chandler, Rev. A., 104, 105 
Chappell, Mrs., 19 
Charlemagne, 1-3 
Charteris, Sir Evan, 331, 361 
Child, Harold, 108, 153, 154, 225, 

256, 266,314 

398 



Christian, Princess, 63 
Christie's, 177, 304, 379 
Churchill, Mr. Winston, 286, 361, 

37 1 

Clarke, Charles, 378 

Clarke, Louis C. G., 210 

Clarke, Sir Purdon, 222 

Clay, Walter, 185, 186, 210 

Clergy Orphan School, see Canter 
bury 

Clifton, A. B., 231 

Cluff, Rev. W. C. } 39 

Clutton-Brock, Arthur, 73, 79-81, 
I3 1 * J 97> 28l > 283, 2 9 8 > 3^2 

Cobham, Lord, 264, 277 

Cochrane, A. S., 155, 188 

Cockerell, Sir Sydney, 314, 352 

Codling, Sir W. R., 268 

Cole, John, 76, 91 

Collier, Constance, 189 

Collins Baker, see Baker 

Colnaghi's, 153, 177, 357 

Colvin, Sir Sidney, 235, 244, 274 

Conder, Charles, 170, 194, 195, 
200, 230 

Connaught, Duke of, 384 

Constable, Archibald, 119 

Constable, Messrs., 208 

Constable, T. and A., 119, 120, 
128 

Constable, Prof. W. G., 367 

Conway, Lord, 220, 314, 356 

Cook, Sir Herbert, 214, 270 

Cook, Wyndham, 215 

Cornwall, 17-28, 238 

Cornwall, W. E., 60, 61 

Cotterill, L., 78 

Courtauld, S., 384 

Cox, Miss, 367 

Cravath, Paul, 335, 341 

Creighton, Bishop, 118 

Cricket, 84, 106, 107, 135, 136 

Cripps, Reginald, 64, 99-101, 104- 
110,133-137,153,157,179,186, 
188, 192, i95-*99> 201, 247-249, 
285 

Curzon, Lord, 242, 244, 245, 280, 
288, 296, 297, 314, 318, 320- 
322, 324, 325, 335, 342, 343, 



INDEX 



348, 35i ? 372, 377, 379> 383, j 
385-388, 393,. 394 ! 

Gust, Sir Lionel, 235, 245, 259, 
260, 263, 267, 275, 378 

D'Abernon, Lord, 324, 325, 328 

Daniel, Mrs., 108, 240 

Davidson, Archbishop, 361, 362 

Davies, Randall, 188 

Dawes, Frank, 218 

Degas Sale, 335-342 

Dell, Robert, 210, 213-216 

Devonshire, 30-37, 201, 202 

Dickson family, 9, 10 

Dickson, Adela, 48, 53, (niece) 316 

Dickson, Alan, 316 

Dickson, Arthur, 48, 58, 157, 328 

Dickson, Edmund, 48, 49, 57, 58, 

92,93 

Dickson, Rev. F. J., 116, 117 
Dickson, Canon H. Granville, 117, 

119, 157,352 

Dickson, Joseph Briggs, 10, 47, 48 
Dickson, Mary Susan, see Mrs. 

Charles R. Holmes 
Dickson, Col. Norman., 201 
Dickson, William, 47 
Dieppe, 194, 195 
Dilke, Sir Charles, 191 
Dillon, Lord, 264, 265, 288, 295, 

301, 303, 307, 317, 343, 393 
Dobson, Denis, 201, 202 
Dobson, W. G., 188, 201 
Dodgson, Campbell, 1 08, 215, 219 
Dodgson, John, 367 
Doughty, C. H. M., 90 
Dowson, Ernest, 195 
Drawing, see Painting 
Dublin, 310, 311,324, 374 
Dulac, Edmund, 326 
Duncan, Mrs., 310 
Duveen, Lord, 226, 324, 355, 373, 

384* 3^7 

Earle, Sir Lionel, 290, 327 
Eden, River, 213, 362, 365 
Epstein, Jacob, 243, 294, 326, 380 
Esterhazy, 189 
Estes and Lauriat, 148-150 



Etching, 142, 143, 148, 149 
Eton, 64, 65, 67-93, 360 
Evans, Sir Arthur, 242, 243 

Farlow, Messrs., 365 

Farnell, Dr., 375 

Farrer, Reginald, 297-299 

ffoulkes, Charles, 307 

Field, Michael, 175, 180 

Firth, Sir Charles, 264 

Firth, Rev. R., 53 

Fishing, 27, 28, 43, 44, 49, 50, 57, 
62, 82, 85, 95, 97-99, 109-111, 
128, 154, 156, 157,213,238,251, 
252, 260-262, 278, 279, 292, 293, 
298-300, 312, 316, 333, 350, 
362-365 

Fitzmaurice, Lord, 264 

Football, 68-71, 84, 107, 1 1 8, 119 

Fowler, Dr. G. H., 188 

France, Anatole, 229 

Frernantle, Sir Francis, 82, 88 

Frick, H. C., 223, 224 

Friedlander, Dr., 219, 231 

Frost, W. K, 35-37 

Fry, Sir Geoffrey, 335-33$ 

Fry, Roger, 170, 177, 190, 191, 
*99> 213-216, 219-225, 232, 235, 
270, 274, 275, 280-282, 300, 

3*4, 335, 356 
Furse, Charles, 199 
Furse, Michael, 78 

Gavrilovitch, Mr., 359 

Geology, 57, 58, 72, 353 

George, Mr. Lloyd, 286, 325, 348- 

349* 386 
Germany, 196, 200, 2?8, 230, 231, 

305, 306, 366, 378 
Ghosts, 44, 45, 122-124 
Gibson, Mrs. Frank, 359 
Gladstone, Mr., 112, 118, 186 
Gleadowe, Prof. R. M. Y., 240, 

367, 368, 370* 378, 384 
Gleichen, the Ladies, 359 
Glover, R. S., 308 
Godley, A. D., 241 
Golf, 128, 153 
Gordon, General, 275, 276 



399 



SELF AND PARTNERS 



Gorst, Sir John, 10, 185, 190 
Gosse, Edmund, 152, 264, 287, 

288, 300 

Gower, Lord Ronald, 151, 264 
Grace, W. G., 107 
Greenslade, Sydney, 188 
Grissell, H. de la G., 116 
Grosvenor Gallery, 163, 357 
Gurney, Sir E., 352 
Gutekunst, O., 357 

Hacon, W. Llewellyn, 170, 171, 

174, 176, 194, 195 
Haden, Sir K Seymour, 118, 149, 

271 

Hale, Rev. E., 72, 76 
Hamilton-Bruce, R. T., 120-122 
Hanson, Edward, 127, 128, 139, 

143, 144 

Hardy, Messrs., 365 
Harmsworth, Alfred, 71 
Harmsworth, Lady, 199 
Headlam, Lionel, 8r, 82, 88, 92 
Healy, Tim, 118 
Heberden, C. B., IQI, 238 
Henley, W. E., 120-122, 140, 141, 

301 

Henn, Rev. H., 88 
Herkomer, Prof. H., 108 
Herringham, Lady, 221, 278 
Heseltine,J. P., 319, 378 
Hibburd, E. W., 115 
Hill, Miss Anne Newell, 204 
Hill, Miss Bessie, 64 
Hill, Sir G. R, 323, 330 
Hills, Major J. W., 374 
Hind, Prof. A. M., 286, 307 
Hoare,J. D., 188 
Holder, W., 328, 329, 379 
Holland, 133-137, 356 
Holme, Charles, 187 
Holmes family, 2, 3, 4 
Holmes, Rev. Charles Rivington, 

4-8, 11-19, 21-24, 26 
Holmes, Mrs. Charles R., 9-19, 

21, 26, 29, 34-36, 94, 96, 97, 

117, 123, 125, 143, 161, 183, 

256, 258 
Holmes, Lady (Evelyn), 257 



Holmes, Lady (Florence), 123, 
1 24, 204-206, 211-213,251, 256- 
258, 261, 265, 278, 310, 326, 332, 

35 8 > 359, 37<> 

Holmes, Francis Herbert, 21, 30, 
31, 49, 51, 65, 97-99, 1 06, 124 

Holmes, Herbert Rivington, 4, 6, 
48 

Holmes, John (' Tayler ' of Ro 
chester), 2 

Holmes, John (of the British 
Museum), 3-8 

Holmes, Mrs. John, 4, 5, 6 

Holmes, Martin Rivington, 238, 

25 1 * 34 6 

Holmesj Miss Mary Anne Riving 
ton, 2, 4, 197,355 

Holmes, Sir Richard Rivington, 4, 
5,6, 11,25,62,63,78,118, 133, 
1 60, 264, 270, 272, 273, 285 

Holmes, Sir Robert, 2, 3 

Holmes, Robert Rivington, 251, 
254, 2 5 6 , 283 

Holmes, Stephen, 2 

Holroyd, Sir Charles, 189, 222, 
223, 272, 287, 313, 315, 318, 
320, 32 1, S3 1 , 393 

Hopkins, Sir Richard, 371 

Hornby, Dr. J. J., 72, 73, 8 1, 91 

Home, Herbert P., 190, 196, 209, 
249, 273 

Home, Sir Robert, 372 

Housman, Laurence, 210 

Hussey, Dynely, 367 

Hutchinson, Rev. H. N., 153 

Hyslop, Dr., 280 

Image, Prof. Selwyn, 274, 281 
Inrnan, Mrs., 94 
International Society, 236, 237 
Ireland, 310, 311, 324, 346, 347, 

373, 374 
Italy, 179-181, 195-198, 246-250 

Jackson, T. G., 235 
Jalland,H., 188 
James, Dr. H. A., 65, 124, 240 
James, Henry, 230, 238 
James, Dr. Montague R., 360 



40O 



INDEX 



Japan, Crown Prince of, 384 

Jasper family, 2, 3 

Jenkinson, A. J., 242, 244 

Jepson, Edgar, 188 

John, Augustus, 200, 245, 284, 

357, 3^1,370 
Johnson, John G., 223 
Johnson, Lionel, 81, 108 
Joynes, Rev. J. L., 65 

Kaiser, the, 85, 241,378 

Kay, H. L, 367 

Kent, C. W., 107 

Keynes, J. Maynard, 335, 336, 

340-342 
King, H.M. The, 308, 309, 351, 

378 

King, Rev. Bryan, 14 
King, Dr. John, 20 
Kingsley, Miss Alice, 170 
Kirkby,P.J.,6 4 ,6 5 
Kirk's, 183, 1 86 
Knoedler's, 335-342 
Knott, Ralph, 296 
Knutsford, Lord, 264, 301 
Krogh, Christian, 194 
Kuhlmann, R. von, 305 

Lake District, 57, 65-67, 128, 154- 



Lane, Sir Hugh P., 237, 324, 373, 

374 

Lane, John, 171. 173, 383 
Lansdowne, Lord, 287, 314, 320, 

32i 5 344, 379, 38o, 385, 387, 

388,39^393 
Lascelles, Lord, 360 
Laun, Henry van, 147 
Laurie, Dr. A. P., 356 
Law, Mr. Bonar, 288, 348, 349, 

37 6 ? 385 

Layard Collection, 319, 323 
Lee, Lord, 348 
Lee-Warner, P. H., 275, 280, 285, 

312, 33 1 , 3 8 3 
Legg, W. W., 89 
Leggatt, Ernest, 304 
Legros, Alphonsej 170 
Leighton, Sir F., 96, 118, 164 



Leverhulme, Lord, 370 
Lewis, T. B., 52, 92, 176 
Lewis, Wyndham, 188 
Limehouse, 10, u, 286 
Lindsay, Sir Coutts, 264 
Lister family, i 
Lloyd-Baker, A. B., 240 
Lodge, Sir Oliver, 325 
Longmans, 126, 127, 131, 143, 144 
Lowis, Elizabeth, 255, 256 
Lowry, Sir Arthur, 188 
Lucas, Richard Cockle, 3, 231, 269 
Luxmoore, H. E., 76, 360 



Macbeth, Robert, 148 
Macbeth-Raeburn, H. 5 148, 149 
McCall, Charles, 139 
MacCoU, D. S., 170, 190, 216, 
220-223, 229, 233, 235, 267, 330, 

342, 373 
MacDonald, Mr. Ramsay, 349, 

35 

MacDonnell, Sir Schornberg, 268 
Macgregor, H., 172 
McKenna, Mr. Reginald, 325 
Mackenzie, Dr. Morell, 16 
Maclagan, Sir Eric, 282, 342, 350 
Macpherson, Mr. Ian, 374 
Manchester, 96, 253, 269 
Marks, Murray, 230 
Martin, Sir Alec, 379 
Martin, E. le B., 171 
Martin, Dr. F. R., 228, 229, 305 
Martin, Prof. Dr. W., 356 
Masefield, John, 188 
Matheson, Rev. C., 39, 64 
Mayer, G., 177, 201,335 
Mayor, Fred, 59 
Meiklejohn, Sir Roderick, 268 
Mestrovic, 312 
Methuen, Paul, 240 
Midland Railway, 206, 322 
Millais, Sir John, 96, 118, 178 
Mills family, 22, 28 
Milner, J. D., 263-266, 269, 275, 

2973304,307,314,317 
MoncriefF, H. A., 115, 211 
Mond Collection, 369, 384, 386 
Moore, George, 190 
401 



SELF AND PARTNERS 



Moore, Rev. H. D., 15 

Moore, T. Sturge, 1 64, 1 69, 1 75, 200 
Mordaunt, H. J., 83, 84 
Morelli, A., 174 
Morgan, George, 188 
Morgan, J. Pierpont, 1223, 224, 272 
Morley, Lord, 286, 325 
Morris, Max, 357 
Morris, Miss May, 189 
Morris, William, 81 
Morris, Mrs. William, 172 
Munnings, A. J., 209 
Mushet, P. J., 131, 137 
Myers, F. W. H., 81 

National Art-Collections Fund, 

221,233,285,342,377 
National Gallery, 190, 222, 223, 

232, 233, 267, 287, 294, 296, 

312-335, 342-344* 354, 3^8-396 
National Portrait Gallery, 259, 

260, 262-272, 275-277, 290-295, 

297, 303-37> 3 i 5-320, 328, 392, 

393 

Nelson, Thomas, 120 
New English Art Club, 199, 237, 

238, 250-254, 284, 285, 302, 331, 

356, 357 

Nightingale, Florence, 276 
Nimmo, John C., 144-152, 159-162 
Norwich, 156, 209, 351, 352 

Oldham, E. H., 6i 3 62 
Oldmeadow, E. J., 187 
Opera, 158, 189,332,333,358,359 
Oppenheimer, Henry, 327, 354 
Ormsby-Gore, Mr., 240, 241, 251 
Orpen, Sir William, 200, 284, 331, 

357 

Orrinsmith, H., 115 
Orrock, James, 207, 208 
Osborne, E. B., 55, 56, 58, 61, 65 
Ottery St. Mary, 35-37 
Oxford, 88, 90, 91, 107, 225, 235, 

236, 238-246, 262, 263, 273, 274, 

3 6 7> 375 



Painting and Drawing; 32, 33, 78, 
94-97, 108, 118, 152-156, 192, 



194, 198-201, 205, 206, 211, 
| 212,237, 249-254, 269, 282-285, 
292, 297, 302, 303, 312, 331, 

332, 355, 357, 35 8 
Palmistry, 162 
Papillon, Canon, 197 
Paris, 335-342, 373 
Parker, Eric, 67, 82, 285, 301 
Pater, Walter, 102, 103, 125, 247 
Patti, Carlotta, 258 
Pedder, Rev. J. W., 57, 90, 316 
Peel, S. C., 304 
Phillips, Sir Claude, 158, 214, 218, 

219, 222, 226, 227, 280, 285, 

314, 324, 379, 383, 384 
Pink, Lieut., 309 
Pissarro, Camille, 170 
Pissarro, Lucien, 169, 170, 175, 284 
Plymouth, Lord, 207, 220, 270, 

280, 314, 320-322, 345, 382, 393 
Powell, 68 
Poynter, Sir E. J., 96, 190, 199, 

220, 223, 264, 320, 380, 393 
Preston, 9, 10, 14, 17, 18, 29, 34, 

36, 38, 47-58, 65, 122, 123 

Queen, H.M. The, 351, 360 

RadclifFe, William, 362 

Raphael, Sir Herbert, 264, 299 

Rashlcigh, W. W., 107 

Rawlinson, W. G., 208 

Reeve, James, 209 

Rendall, Vernon, 191, 210, 235 

Ribblesdale, Lord, i, 264, 314, 

315, 317, 333> 382 

Ricketts, Charles, 141-143, 149, 
152, 159, 162-181, 196, 197, 199, 
212, 219-221, 230, 237, 249, 256, 
258, 274, 280, 285, 300, 314, 326 

Riley, Mr., 141, 169 

Ringrose, Mr., 356 

Rivington family, 3, 4, 204 

Rivington firm, 112-127, 131, 146 

Rivington, Charles, 4 

Rivington, Charles Robert, 204- 
206, 211, 270 

Rivington, Florence Mary Hill, 
see Holmes, Lady (Florence) 



402 



INDEX 



Rivington, Francis Hansard, 1 1 1 - 

1 1 6, 183, 184, 302 
Rivington, Luke, Monsignor, 6, 1 16 
Rivington, Septimus, 1 12, 1 13, 126 
Rivington, Thurstan, Canon, 7, 8 
Rivington, William, 4, 1 i, 204 
Robinson, Sir Charles, 177 
Roche's, 187-193, 196, 201 
Rodin, A., 237, 312 
Roe,W.N.,43,6 2 
Rogers, Rev. W., 13, 118 
Rosebery, Lord, 232 
Rosenheim, Max, 215 
Ross, Robert, 199, 229, 230, 255, 

263, 33 1 

Rothenstein, Charles, 237 
Rothenstein, Sir William, 164, 

170, 171,200,284,331 
Rothschild, Alfred de, 224, 232, 33 1 
Rothschild, Lady, 361 
Royal Academy, 190, 199, 200, 

222, 223, 311, 312, 329, 375 
Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, 

307-310 ^ 
Royal Society of Painter-Etchers, 

149 

Royal Society of Painters in Water- 
Colours, 357 

Ruskin, John, 66, 77-79, 152, 227, 
238, 243, 274, 282 

Rutherston, Albert, 353 

Sadler, Sir Michael, 283, 297, 303 
Sadler, Michael, 292 
Salaman, F. S., 215, 216 
Salisbury, Lord, 118, 232 
Salting, George, 272, 273 
Sandringham, 308, 309, 331 
Sargent, John, 223, 236, 284, 361 
Sassoon, Sir Philip, 351, 352, 360, 

37i, 372 

Saunderson, Colonel, 118 
Saunderson, Richard, 256 
Savage, Reginald, 141, 164, 165,169 
Schmidt-Degener, Dr. F., 356 
Scotland, 94-96, 119-122, 195 
Scribner, Messrs., 148 
Selbie, Dr. W. B., 105 
Serena, Arthur, 377 



Service^ F. S., 144 

Seward, Dr. A. C., 255, 353 

Shannon, Charles, 141, 142, 1493 

159, 162-165, 169, 171, 172, 176- 

180, 199, 212, 237, 249, 258 
Sharpe, Cecil, 205 
Shaw, G. Bernard, 229, 303 
Sickert, Walter, 168, 236, 256, 

263, 284, 288, 359 
Simcox, Elizabeth, 18 
Smith, Algernon, 225 
Smith, Sir Cecil Harcourt, 323, 330 
Smith, G. Dunbar, 188, 352 
Smith, Reginald, 303 
SmitherSj Leonard, 170 
Snowden, Lord, 349 
South Kensington Museum, 132^ 

J 58 3 I59> I9> 233, 272 
Spain, 355 

Speyer, Sir Edgar, 218 
Spicer, Sir Evan. 115 
Spottiswoode's, 150, 213 
Stables, L. Gordon, 225 
Steele, Robert, 180, 188 
Steer, P. Wilson, 190, 200, 236, 

250, 283, 284, 357 
Stephen, Lady, 276 
Steriy, Sir Wasey, 71 
Stoddart, G. R., 40 
Stone, E. D., 67, 76 
Strachey, Lytton, 276 
Strang, William, 109, 148, 149, 

152, 189, 200, 256, 284 
Stratton, 19-27, 138, 238, 383 
Streatfeild, R. A., 188, 192 
Sudeley, Lord, 267, 291, 369 
Suffragettes, 301, 304, 305 
SuUey, Arthur, 226, 333, 334 
Sullivan, John L., 106 
Swainson family, 10 
Swainson, Dr. Charles, 88 
Swinburne, A. C., 79-81, 175 
Switzerland, 211, 212, 250 
Symonds, J. A., 147, 148, 151, 152 

Tait, Archbishop, 14, 17, 59 
Tarver, Frank, 68 
Tate Gallery, 178, 267, 296, 329, 
33. 334; 375> 39 



403 



SELF AND PARTNERS 



Temple, Archbishop, 19, 20 
Tennant, Sir Charles, 207 
Terry, EUen, 271 
Thaulow 3 Fritz, 194, 197 
Theatres, 96, 157, 158, 165 
Thesiger, Ernest, 189 
Thomas,, Sir W. Beach, i88 5 192 
Thorpe, W. K, 45 
Titchener, Prof. E. B., 105, 141 
Tonks, Prof. Henry, 284, 357 
Toynbee family, 3 
Toynbee, Harry, 125 
Toynbee, Mrs. Joseph, 3, 165 
Troubetskoi, Prince, 237 
Turner, A. H., 153 
Turner, Hawes, 294 
Turner, J. M. W., 389, 390, 395, 
396 

Upcott, Dr. A. W., 39 

Vale, The, 141-143, 145, 163-170 
Vale Press, 171-176, 182, 204, 211 
Vaughan, Cardinal, 140 
Vaughan, E. L., 92 
Vaux, Richard, 188 
Vickers, Ronald, no 
Victoria, Queen, 79 
Volunteer Civil Force, 307 
Voynich, Mrs., 188 

Wales, The Prince of, 352 

Walford, Desborough, 137, 153 

Walker, Sir Emery, 115, 269 

Wallis, Sir Whitworth, 314 

Wallop, Hon. F., 366 

Walters. Henry, 223 

Ware, Sir Fabian, 326 

Warre, Dr. Edmond, 55, 84-86, 92 

Waters, Arthur, 108 

Watson, Rev. Albert, 101 

Watson, H. G., 61 

Weale, W H. James, 226, 241, 242 



Weardale, Lord, 304 
Weaver, Sir Laurence, 188 
Webb, Sir Aston, 329, 375 
Wellington, Hubert, 370 
Wertheimer, Asher, 226, 333 
West, J.Walter, 164 
Westminster, 117-119, 143, 152- 

154, 182, 191, 346 
Westmorland, 204, 206, 257, 278, 

292, 293, 302, 346, 362 
Whistler, J. M.. 139, 142, 172, 173, 

189, 237 

White, Jack, 128 
Whitworth, Geoffrey, 240 
Wild, Sir Ernest, 88 
Wilde, Oscar, 157, 166-169, 263, 

294. 33i 

Wilenski, R. H., 240 
Wilhelmj, August, 257, 258 
Williams, A. B., 44 
Williamson, Dr. John, 143 
Wilson, President, 345 
Winchester, 63, 64, 90, 108, 199 
Windrush, The, 90, 102, 109, no, 

202, 203, 312, 348, 363-365 
Windsor Castle, 62, 63, 65, 78, 79, 

85, 257 

Windsor, Lord, see Plymouth 
Wisselingh, E. J. van, 199, 200 
Witt, Sir Robert, 314, 317, 384 
Wooldridge, Prof. H. E., 235 
Woollen, Frank, 225 
Writing, 80, 175, 186, 187, 190, 
191, 207-210, 219-221, 232, 233, 
239, 244, 252, 275, 280, 281, 283, 
286, 293, 300, 301, 312, 353-355, 
369 

Yeats, W. B., 310, 311 

Yockney, A., 357 

Yorkshire, 56, 57, 206, 260-262, 

278, 279, 298, 332 
Youssoupoff, Prince, 376 



Z 



104310